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Judge strikes down Utah gay marriage ban

A federal judge struck down the ban on same-sex marriage in Utah, ruling it violates the US Constitution.

Illinois passes gay marriage law 12 20 13Enlarge
Ron Perkins and Reggie Dizon show their support for same-sex marriage on November 20, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/AFP/Getty Images)

A federal judge struck down Utah's ban on gay marriage Friday, ruling it violates the US 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," US District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby wrote. "Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional."

More from GlobalPost: New Mexico's highest court rules same-sex marriage legal

The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit filed by three same-sex couples who want to marry, but cannot currently do so because of state law.

"It feels unreal," Moudi Sbeity, a plaintiff in the case, told the Salt Lake Tribune. "I’m just very thrilled that Derek and I will be able to get married soon, if all goes well and the state doesn’t appeal. We want a farmer’s market wedding because it’s where we spend a lot of time."

The decision follows a similar ruling by a federal judge in New Mexico on Thursday.

More from GlobalPost: Illinois becomes 16th state to pass gay-marriage law

That state's highest court legalized same-sex marriage in a ruling that declared it is unconstitutional to deny a marriage license to gay and lesbian couples.

Utah joins 17 states and the District of Columbia in allowing gay marriage.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/131220/judge-strikes-down-utah-gay-marriage-ban