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10th Circuit Court Says States Can't Ban Gay Marriage

by Chris Casteel Modified: June 25, 2014 at 2:10 pm •  Published: June 25, 2014

In a ruling that strikes down gay marriage ban in Oklahoma, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said today that the 14th Amendment protects same-sex couples’ right to marry.

The decision is in the Utah case, which  was considered on a fast track with the Oklahoma case. In both cases, federal judges struck down state bans.

The Oklahoma case is still pending. However, the principle involved in the Utah case applies to Oklahoma and the other states in the circuit: Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico.

Here is a key passage:

“May a State of the Union constitutionally deny a citizen the benefit or protection of the laws of th e State based solely upon the sex of the person that citizen chooses to marry?
“Having heard and carefully considered the argument of the litigants, we conclude that, consistent with the United States Constitution, the State of Utah may not do so.
“We hold that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state’s marital laws. A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union. For the reasons stated in this opinion, we affirm.”
 In the 2-1 decision, the court dismissed arguments from the state of Utah that allowing same-sex marriages would have a destabilizing effect on opposite-sex marriages.
“We cannot imagine a scenario under which recognizing same-sex marriages would affect the decision of a member of an opposite-sex couple to have a child, to marry or stay married to a partner, or to make personal sacrifices for a child,” the court ruled.
UPDATE: The Associated Press is reporting that Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes will appeal the 10th Circuit court ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The opinion can be found here.

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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