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By Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times

For the second time, a federal appeals court panel in Denver has upheld same-sex marriage by striking down Oklahoma’s ban on gay marriage.

In the 2-1 ruling released Friday, a three-judge panel held in the Oklahoma case that the U.S. Constitution protects same-sex marriage.
The ruling comes after the same panel ruled June 25 that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the Constitution — the first time a federal appeals court had ruled on gay marriage since the Supreme Court said a year ago that the federal government had to extend benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel put its Oklahoma and Utah rulings on hold pending an appeal. Utah’s attorney general has already announced that he plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Though the cases were separate, the issue the court was asked to decide is essentially the same in each. Both cases revolve around lower federal court rulings that struck down state same-sex marriage bans approved by voters. The cases pit the constitutional rights of individuals to marry against the states’ view of what voters want.

Oklahoma’s ban was approved by 76 percent of the voters in 2004.

Photo: Susan Melkisethian via Flickr

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