Denver: A US appeals court today ruled for the first time that states must allow gay couples to marry, finding the Constitution protects same-sex relationships and putting a remarkable legal winning streak across the country one step closer to the Supreme Court.
The three-judge panel in Denver found it "wholly illogical to believe that state recognition of the love and commitment between same-sex couples will alter the most intimate and personal decisions of opposite-sex couples."
The decision upheld a lower court ruling that struck down Utah`s gay marriage ban. However, the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals panel immediately put the ruling on hold so it could be appealed, either to the entire 10th Circuit or directly to the nation`s highest court.
"All I can say is that we are thrilled," said Kody Partridge, one of the plaintiffs.
The decision gives increased momentum to a legal cause that already compiled an impressive winning streak in the lower courts after the Supreme Court last year struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Since then, 16 federal judges have issued rulings siding with gay marriage advocates.
The latest of those rulings was in Indiana, where a federal judge on Wednesday struck down that state`s same-sex marriage ban in a ruling that immediately allows gay couples to wed. The Indiana attorney general`s office said it will appeal.
The appellate ruling on Utah comes 42 years after the Supreme Court refused to hear a case of two men who were refused a marriage license in Minnesota, finding there was no legal issue for the justices to consider, and just 10 years after 11 states voted to outlaw gay marriage.
Now same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states and the Washington capital district in the United States.