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US Judge Strikes Down Michigan's Ban on Gay Marriage

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Jayne Rowse (L) speaks as partner April DeBoer kisses her during a news conference in Ferndale, Michigan, March 21, 2014.

Jayne Rowse (L) speaks as partner April DeBoer kisses her during a news conference in Ferndale, Michigan, March 21, 2014.

A U.S. federal judge has struck down a ban on same-sex marriage in the northern state of Michigan, the latest in series of court rulings that has found gay marriage bans unconstitutional.

The U.S. district judge Bernard Friedman released a 31-page opinion Friday, saying the ban violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of equal protection under the law.

The challenge was brought by two foster mothers, and the case mostly focused on the impact of same-sex parenting on children.

Federal judges in several U.S. states have recently overturned bans on gay marriage, including in Texas, Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia. Those cases have been appealed to higher courts.

More than 30 U.S. states have issued bans on gay marriage, while 17 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized same sex marriage.

Last year, the Supreme Court struck down a 1996 federal law Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. In a 5-4 decision, the court said the government cannot bar same sex couples from getting the same tax, health and pension benefits as heterosexual couples.

The court did not specifically rule on whether it is constitutional for individual states to ban gay marriage.
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