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Delicate path for gay marriage in red states after courts strike down bans in Utah and Oklahoma

BY BRADY MCCOMBS AND NICHOLAS RICCARDI
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SALT LAKE CITY -- Hours after federal judges struck down bans on same-sex marriage in Utah and Oklahoma, activist Evan Wolfson and his colleagues reached out to gay rights groups in the deeply conservative states with both congratulations and a reminder: Court wins alone won't be enough.

Wolfson knows the perils of judges forcing social changes on a population that isn't ready for them - he filed the first successful gay marriage lawsuit in the 1990s in Hawaii, and the backlash against that case convinced him to focus on the political process rather than litigation alone.

That strategy has helped lead to a stunning turnaround in public opinion on gay marriage and a series of electoral wins that laid the groundwork for the recent court rulings.

Now the movement faces its greatest test as foes complain that the recent decisions have leapt ahead of the public in those deeply red states and risk creating another Roe v Wade, where courts settle a divisive social issue but sow the seeds for prolonged conflict.

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