A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, but temporarily stayed his ruling until the issue is decided by a higher court.
U.S. District Judge Raymond Moore, found in favor of six same-sex couples who filed a lawsuit challenging the state's 2006 constitutional amendment that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Moore's 12-page written ruling is the latest in a series of decisions by state and federal judges who have knocked down state bans on gay marriage, but then put their rulings on hold pending appeal.
Emboldened by a landmark U.S. appeals court ruling in June that found in favor of gay marriage in neighboring Utah that was itself put on hold, a handful of county clerks in Colorado had begun issuing marriage licenses despite a state ban on gay nuptials.
Colorado's Supreme Court last week ordered the Denver County clerk to stop issuing licenses to same-sex couples pending the resolution of an appeal by the state's attorney general.
Denver County Clerk Debra Johnson began handing out licenses to gay couples on July 10, hours after a state judge backed a clerk in Boulder, Hillary Hall, who has issued more than 150 licenses since late June.
(Reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Sandra Maler)
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