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Appeals court: States can't ban gay marriage

DENVER (AP) -- A federal appeals court has ruled that states must allow gay couples to marry, finding the Constitution protects same-sex relationships and putting a remarkable legal winning streak across the country one step closer to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The three-judge panel in Denver ruled 2-1 that states cannot deprive people of the fundamental right to marry simply because they want to be wedded to someone of the same sex.

The judges added they don't want to brand as intolerant those who oppose gay marriage, but said there is no reasonable objection to the practice.

The decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld a lower court ruling that struck down Utah's gay marriage ban. However, the panel immediately put Wednesday's ruling on hold so it could be appealed.