A federal judge has found the ban on gay marriage in the southeastern U.S. state of Virginia to be unconstitutional.
U.S. District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen ruled late Thursday that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage violates the right to due process and equal protection under the law. However, Wright Allen imposed a stay on his decision so no couples can marry before unless his ruling is upheld on appeal.
Currently, 17 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. allow same-sex marriage, while 33 states ban it. Virginia's gay marriage dispute is likely to go on to the Supreme Court.
Judge Wright Allen said Virginia's marriage laws unconstitutionally deny gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental freedom to choose to marry.
The Virginia decision comes just weeks after judges threw out bans on gay marriage in Oklahoma and in Utah.
In Indiana this week, a judge ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage will not go to a referendum vote in November.
Also this week, a judge in Kentucky ruled that the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, although the court did not rule on the the constitutionality of performing same-sex marriages in Kentucky.