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Fed. judge backs gay marriage in Utah

A federal judge on Friday struck down Utah’s same-sex marriage ban, making the state where the powerful Mormon Church has fought gay marriage the latest front in the legal battle over marriage rights.

In a 53-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby held that Utah’s law passed by voters in 2004 violates the federal right of gay and lesbian couples to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

“The state’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason,” Shelby wrote. “Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional.”

Utah will appeal the ruling to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Ryan Bruckman, a spokesman for the state attorney general’s office, said.. He said the state will also seek an emergency stay to prevent any gay marriages from taking place.

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