Judge Strikes Down Gay Marriage Ban in Texas But it will stay in place while an appeals court considers case By Newser Editors and Wire Services Posted Feb 26, 2014 2:10 PM CST 182 comments Comments Mark Phariss, left, clutches the hand of partner Victor Holmes as they talk to the media outside the US Federal Courthouse on Feb. 12, 2014, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (Newser) – Yet another big win for gay marriage: A federal judge declared Texas' ban unconstitutional today, but left it in place until an appeals court can rule on the case. Judge Orlando Garcia issued the preliminary injunction after two gay couples challenged a state constitutional amendment and a longstanding law. He said the couples are likely to win their case and the ban should be lifted, but said he would give the state time to appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals before do so. "Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution," Garcia wrote. "These Texas laws deny plaintiffs access to the institution of marriage and its numerous rights, privileges, and responsibilities for the sole reason that Plaintiffs wish to be married to a person of the same sex." The ruling is the latest in a series of victories for gay rights activists following similar decisions in Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia.