WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Utah has ruled that the state’s same-gender marriage ban cannot be enforced against a lesbian couple, upholding an earlier decision that upheld a lower court’s ruling that it cannot be done.
The ruling by U.A. Superior Court Judge David J. Henderson is likely to reignite debate over whether Utah is legally obligated to recognize same-gendered marriages performed in other states.
Lawyers for the couple said they plan to appeal.
“The court’s order is a victory for marriage equality, for all Americans and for the law,” said Laura Schoeller, an attorney for the Utah Alliance for Marriage, which is supporting the couple.
“The court was wrong to hold that the marriage laws in the states that have legalized same- sex marriages are not subject to the same legal scrutiny that applies to same- gender couples in Utah.”
Same-gender marriages were legal in Utah in 2012.
The case involved the Utah couple, a man and a woman, who had been married for more than a decade, and lived in a small city about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Salt Lake City.
They live in a home in a nondiscrimination district that protects gays and lesbians from discrimination.
The state has been defending its same-gay marriage ban in court.
The ruling Tuesday is likely the latest blow to the Utah marriage ban, which was challenged by the state attorney general and others.
The case will now go to the U.s.