Story by the Associated Press; curated by Dave Urbanski

Same Sex Couples in Utah Getting Marriage Licenses

Derek Kitchen, left, and his partner Moudi Sbeity, right, leave the Frank E. Moss United States Courthouse,Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, in Salt Lake City. A challenge to Utah’s same-sex marriage ban by three gay couples was back in court Wednesday as a federal court judge heard arguments in a case being closely watched around the country. Kitchen and Sbeity are plaintiff’s in this case. (Image source: AP/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A county clerk’s office in Utah is issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, just hours after a federal judge struck down Utah’s ban on gay marriages.

Salt Lake County Deputy Clerk Dahnelle Burton-Lee says the district attorney authorized her office to begin issuing the marriage licenses Friday.

She couldn’t immediately say how many licenses have been issued so far.

State Sen. Jim Dabakis, chairman of the Utah Democratic Party, was there with his longtime partner, Stephen Justesen, according to the Associated Press.

“I waited 27 years,” Dabakis said. “We didn’t want to get married until we could get married in Utah.”

Dabakis told the AP that people were rushing to get marriage licenses, fearing that the state will win a court order blocking them from being issued.

The ruling in Utah comes the same week New Mexico’s highest court legalized gay marriage after declaring it unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. A new law passed in Hawaii last month now allows gay couples to marry there.

U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled that a law passed by Utah voters in 2004 violates gay and lesbian couples’ rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment.

Shelby said the state failed to show that allowing same-sex marriages would affect opposite-sex marriages in any way.

The Utah attorney general’s office says it plans to issue a statement on the ruling later.

Here’s a KUTV-TV report in Salt Lake City from earlier this month on three couples who challenged Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage:

This post has been updated.