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Gay marriage advocates celebrated legal victories in Indiana and Utah on Wednesday, after two separate federal courts ruled the states' bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional.
Indiana same-sex couples rushed to the courthouse after a federal district judge ruled that the state's ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. Meantime, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reached a similar decision with regard to Utah's gay marriage ban.
Although thousands of miles apart, what do these gay marriage rulings have in common?
U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young issued his ruling striking down Indiana's ban on gay marriage, stating that the laws preventing performance and recognition of same-sex marriages were unconstitutional.
Judge Young argued that the laws violated Indiana couples' fundamental right to marry as well as equal protection of the state's laws. The fundamental right to marry was recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia, a case that ended bans on interracial marriage in America.
The federal district court's decision goes into effect immediately, with Judge Young ordering state officials to not enforce these unconstitutional gay marriage laws. Even more specifically, the judge ordered state prosecutors to refrain from prosecuting same-sex couples who apply for marriage licenses or county clerks under state laws which punish providing false information in a marriage license.
Because of this immediate order, Indiana couple Craig Bowen and Jake Miller were the first same-sex couple to legally marry in the Hoosier State, reports The Indianapolis Star. While the state may request a stay of the judgment, for now, gays can legally marry in Indiana.
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Also Wednesday, a panel of three federal judges for the 10th Circuit determined in Kitchen v. Herbert that Utah's gay marriage laws were unconstitutional. This affirmed a lower court ruling that struck down the Beehive State's same-sex marriage ban late last year.
Same-sex marriages had briefly begun in Utah back in December. But after about two weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court put them on hold awaiting the 10th Circuit's decision on an appeal.
Though the 10th Circuit has now issued its ruling, the court immediately issued another stay. Salt Lake County's district attorney told The Salt Lake Tribune that Utah has 90 days to appeal the ruling to a full panel of the 10th Circuit, or to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Until then, gay couples in Utah still may not legally marry.
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