In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel of the Seventh US Circuit Court of Appeals voted to invalidate the two states' same-sex marriage bans, as well as measures barring recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states.
In a somewhat unusual move, a Florida court directly referred a case involving the divorce of a same-sex couple to the state Supreme Court. The high court's decision could make Florida the 20th state to legalize gay marriage.
Two federal appeals courts have struck down similar same-sex marriage bans in Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia. The process sets the groundwork for an expected ultimate resolution at the US Supreme Court, as early as next year.
A Tallahassee-based judge ruled in favor of 10 same-sex couples seeking to have their out-of-state marriages formally recognized by Florida and on behalf of one same-sex couple who sued to obtain a marriage license.
Attorney General Eric Holder arrived in Ferguson to assure angry residents of a fair investigation even as a state grand jury began hearing evidence in the police shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown.
The move means that same-sex couples could begin obtaining Virginia marriage licenses as early as next week. Supporters of the Virginia gay marriage ban said they would ask the US Supreme Court to issue its own stay.
North Carolina voters without photo ID won't be turned away from the polls this November, but they will be asked to sign an acknowledgment of the new ID requirement – a step critics worry will make for longer lines to vote.