In this Jan. 28, 2019, photo, Kenji Aiba, left, and his partner Ken Kozumi laugh during an interview with The Associated Press…
File - Jan. 28, 2019, Kenji Aiba, left, and his partner Ken Kozumi during talks to the Associated Press in Tokyo, holding onto a marriage certificate, anticipating that Japan would emulate other advanced nations and legalize same-sex unions.

A Japanese district court ruled Wednesday that a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
 
The historic ruling by the Sapporo District Court was in response to a lawsuit filed by six plaintiffs, including two male couples and one female couple, who demanded more than $9,100 each (1 million yen), in damages from the Japanese government.  The court said the prohibition violates Article 14 of the Japanese constitution, which declares all people are equal under the law, but it rejected the plaintiff’s demand for damages.   
 
The lawsuit is one of five that have been filed in various Japanese courts seeking to overturn the ban.  
 
Japan is the lone holdout in the world’s top seven economies, known as the Group of Seven, that refuses to recognize same-sex marriage.  The government says the constitution defines marriage as one based on “the mutual consent of both sexes,” meaning one solely between a man and a woman.  The ban prevents same-sex couples from sharing in the same benefits granted to opposite-sex couples, such as inheriting their partner’s houses and other assets, or maintaining parental control over their children.    
 
Several municipalities have issued “partnership certificates” that give same-sex couples some of the same rights as heterosexual couples.
 
Homosexuality itself has been legal in Japan since 1880.  Taiwan is the only place in Asia that has legalized same-sex marriage.