An appeal to a ruling declaring Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage invalid will be expedited, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver announced Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Terence C. Kern put his 68-page ruling, handed down two weeks ago, on hold, pending an appeal by the state.

Oklahoma voters in 2004 overwhelmingly (76%) approved Question 711, which defines marriage as a heterosexual union. The amendment also prohibits the state from recognizing gay couples with civil unions.

The Oklahoman reported that the same three-judge appeals panel will hear the Oklahoma case and a similar challenge to Utah's ban. However, the cases will no be combined into a single appeal.

While the court has not set a date for oral arguments, legals briefs are to be filed by early April.

Plaintiffs in the case are two gay couples – Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin and Gay Phillips and Susan Barton – who filed their lawsuit shortly after the amendment's passage in 2004. Kern ruled that Oklahoma's ban “violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by precluding same-sex couples from receiving an Oklahoma marriage license.”