Federal judge strikes down Texas gay marriage ban

Associated Press
Cleopatra De Leon, left, and partner, Nicole Dimetman, right, arrive at the U.S. Federal Courthouse, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in San Antonio, where a federal judge is expected to hear arguments in a lawsuit challenging Texas' ban on same-sex marriage. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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Cleopatra De Leon, left, and partner, Nicole Dimetman, right, arrive at the U.S. Federal Courthouse, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in San Antonio, where a federal judge is expected to hear arguments in a lawsuit challenging Texas' ban on same-sex marriage. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal judge has struck down Texas' ban on gay marriage, but is leaving it in place pending a ruling by an appeals court later this year.

Judge Orlando Garcia issued a preliminary injunction on the ban Wednesday, then suspended his ruling. Two gay couples had challenged the state's constitutional amendment and a longstanding law banning gay marriage.

Under federal court rules, a judge may suspend a law if he or she believes the plaintiffs have a strong case and will suffer if the law is enforced.

Garcia said his injunction against Texas enforcing its ban will take effect once an appeals court has a chance to rule on the issue.

The ruling is the latest in a recent series of victories for gay rights activists.

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