A federal appeals court on Wednesday affirmed a lower court's ruling striking down Utah's ban on gay marriage.

A three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver declared Utah's ban unconstitutional in a 112-page ruling.

The ruling reads in part: “Last year the [Supreme Court] entertained the federal aspect of the issue in striking down [section 3] of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) … yet left open the question presented to us now in full bloom: May a State of the Union constitutionally deny a citizen the benefit or protection of the laws of the State based solely upon the sex of the person that citizen chooses to marry?”

“Having heard and carefully considered the argument of the litigants, we conclude that, consistent with the United States Constitution, the State of Utah may not do so. We hold that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state's marital laws. A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union.”

In 2008, Utah voters approved Amendment 3, an amendment to the state's constitution defining marriage as a heterosexual union.

The case, heard by the appeals court in April, was the first to reach the appellate level since the Supreme Court struck down DOMA last year. An appeal in a similar case striking down Oklahoma's ban is still before the court.