DENVER (AP) A federal appeals court has ruled for the second time that states cannot prevent gay people from getting married.
A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Friday has found a ban on same-sex marriage in Oklahoma violates the U.S. Constitution. In a Utah case, the court ruled June 25 that gay couples have a constitutional right to wed.
Lower courts struck down Utah and Oklahoma's voter-approved bans in December and January, respectively.
The rulings are the first at the appellate level since the U.S. Supreme Court changed the legal landscape by striking down the Defense of Marriage Act in June 2013. They are likely to be appealed to the high court.
Gay marriage in both states is on hold until appeals are resolved.
Gay rights groups are planning celebrations across the state after a federal appeals court ruled Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
Two separate rallies were planned Friday evening in Oklahoma City, with other events scheduled in Tulsa and Norman.
A "Decision Day Gathering" set for 7 p.m. Friday night at the Mayflower Congregational Church in northwest Oklahoma City was expected to draw hundreds of people.
One of the event's organizers, Troy Stevenson of The Equality Network, says there is a tremendous sense of relief for members of Oklahoma's gay and lesbian community, but he also noted the case ultimately must be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Friday's ruling was put on hold pending any appeal, which means gay marriages won't immediately take place in Oklahoma.