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US Appeals Court Lifts More Gay Marriage Bans

FILE - Gay rights activists wave rainbow flag in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington.

A U.S. federal appeals court has struck down a ban on same-sex marriages in the western states of Idaho and Nevada, a day after the country's highest court let stand a similar ruling in five other states.

The ruling Tuesday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco will also negate bans in Alaska, Arizona and Montana that fall within the court's jurisdiction.

Once the 9th district court's ruling goes into effect, same-sex marriages will be legal in 35 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. They remain against the law in 15 U.S. states.

Gay marriage advocates say the Supreme Court ruling Monday has sent a clear message of support for marriage equality by making it easier for appeals courts to strike down similar bans.

After the Supreme Court decision, a White House spokesman said a majority of Americans recognize that same sex couples deserve fair treatment under the law. Spokesman Josh Earnest declined to comment specifically on the Supreme Court's decision, but said U.S. President Barack Obama believes gay marriage should be the law of the land.

State officials who defend gay marriage bans say the Constitution does not dictate how states should define marriage and say there is no legal tradition that supports a right to gay marriage.

Just more than a year ago, the Supreme Court ruled to strike down a federal law that restricted the definition of marriage to heterosexual couples for the purpose of federal government benefits.

Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.