DENVER — When the US Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act one year ago, it stopped short of saying states cannot ban gay marriage.
But in a string of 17 straight rulings, judges have argued that the high court’s decision in US v. Windsor means just that: States cannot get in the way of gay couples who want to marry.
The most significant of those findings came Wednesday when the US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver became the first appellate court to weigh in post-Windsor and upheld a ruling that found Utah’s gay marriage ban was unconstitutional.
That decision increases pressure on the high court to make explicit what it did not say last year — that gay couples nationwide have a right to marry.
‘‘This tees it up for possible Supreme Court review,’’ said William Eskridge, a law professor at Yale University. ‘‘When a federal appeals court strikes down a major state law, there is a lot more pressure for the justices to take that.’’
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