A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled for the first time that states must allow gay couples to marry, finding that same-sex unions are protected under the Constitution and bringing a remarkable legal winning streak across the country one step closer to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"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," the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver said in its decision.
The three-judge panel 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 Circuit panel immediately put Wednesday's 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 Utah plaintiffs. She was working in the garden with her wife, Laurie Wood, when they heard about the ruling.