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Alabama judge strikes down ban on gay marriage

 (CNN)States struggling to define the question of marriage equality have an addition to their ranks: Alabama.

A U.S. district judge struck down Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage Friday after two Mobile women sued the state for failing to recognize the couple's union.

Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand were married legally in California and have been together for 15 years. But the issue of their rights as a couple came about after Searcy's petition to adopt McKeand's 9-year-old son was denied.

Alabama's adoption code gives a person a right to adopt a spouse's child. But because Alabama doesn't recognize their marriage, Searcy could not qualify for adoption.

The couple's lawyer, David Kennedy, said McKeand and Searcy were "very pleased with the court's ruling."

"We are happy for the tens of thousands of gay Alabamians and their children," Kennedy said. "Justice and equality are guaranteed to everyone and we are proud to know that is true in Alabama tonight."

The state filed a motion Friday seeking to put a hold on the judge's decision pending a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, effectively trying to keep couples from applying for marriage licenses in the meantime.

The Supreme Court has previously refused to hear cases from states — Indiana, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, to name a few — seeking to keep their bans against same-sex marriage in place. But the court is expected to consider petitions from lower courts in five states where judges upheld laws banning same-sex marriage.

If the ruling is upheld, Alabama would be the 37th state to authorize same-sex marriage.

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