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“Exclusion of just one class of citizens from receiving a marriage license based upon the perceived ‘threat’ they pose to the marital institution is, at bottom, an arbitrary exclusion based upon the majority’s disapproval of the defined class,” Kern wrote. “It is also insulting to same-sex couples, who are human beings capable of forming loving, committed, enduring relationships.”

Republican Gov. Mary Fallin issued a written statement accusing Kern of undermining the will of Oklahoma voters who overwhelmingly passed the ban.

“I support the right of Oklahoma’s voters to govern themselves on this and other policy matters. I am disappointed in the judge’s ruling and troubled that the will of the people has once again been ignored by the federal government,” the statement said.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt said the Supreme Court had left it to the states to define marriage and that Kern’s ruling was “troubling.” He said it would likely take another Supreme Court decision to resolve the matter.

Tulsa County Court Clerk Sally Howe Smith, who was a defendant in the lawsuit, said there was no way under Oklahoma law for her to give Baldwin and Bishop a marriage license. “That’s how I became a defendant in the case,” she said.

Not including Utah and Oklahoma, 27 states still have constitutional prohibitions on same-sex marriage. Four more - Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wyoming - do not permit it through state laws.

For 17 days, Utah was the 18th state to allow gay couples to wed, after a federal judge there overturned the state’s same-sex marriage ban. Hundreds of couples got married before the Supreme Court put a halt to the weddings earlier this month by granting the state a stay on a federal judge’s ruling that two other courts previously denied.

The fate of gay marriage in Utah now rests in the hands of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver - the same circuit as Oklahoma.

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Associated Press reporters Kristi Eaton, Sean Murphy and Tim Talley in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.