The same three-judge appeals court panel in Denver that heard arguments last week in a case challenging Utah's gay marriage ban reviewed similar arguments Thursday in a case challenging Oklahoma's ban.

Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin filed their lawsuit shortly after Oklahoma voters in 2004 overwhelmingly (76%) approved Question 711, which defines marriage as a heterosexual union and prohibits the state from recognizing gay couples with civil unions.

Oklahoma officials appealed U.S. District Judge Terence C. Kern's January ruling declaring the ban invalid.

Prohibiting gay couples from marriage “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,” Kern wrote in his decision.

According to the AP, marriage equality advocates have a reason to hope that their claims will prevail in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

While judges appeared divided during last week's arguments, Judge Jerome Holmes, who is seen as the swing vote, appeared more likely to side with plaintiffs, asking the attorney defending the state's ban: “The state cannot define marriage in any way that would trample constitutional rights, right?”

However, the judges also appeared to question whether the plaintiffs had legal standing in the case.

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, the nation's largest group dedicated to expanding marriage rights for gay couples, said in a tweet that he hopes the court “will swiftly affirm the unanimous wave of lower-court rulings” in favor of plaintiff couples challenging such bans.

A ruling in either case is not expected for months.