Miami (AFP) - A US federal judge struck down a Florida ban on gay marriage Thursday, but stayed the ruling pending further appeals.
US District Judge Robert Hinkle, in the Florida state capital of Tallahassee, said that the ban against same-sex marriages approved in a 2008 referendum was unconstitutional.
In explaining his ruling, Hinkle made reference to laws banning interracial marriages that were overturned 50 years ago.
"When observers look back 50 years from now, the arguments supporting Florida's ban on same-sex marriage, though just as sincerely held, will again seem an obvious pretext for discrimination," he wrote.
"Observers who are not now of age will wonder just how those views could have been held."
The ruling came in response to a case involving some 20 people, among them gay couples who wanted to marry in Florida and others who legally married out of state and wanted Florida to recognize their unions.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has said that she wants to wait on appealing the cases until the US Supreme Court weighs in on gay marriage.
The Supreme Court ruled in June 2013 that gay couples had the same federal benefits than heterosexual couples, but that marriage laws continued to be a state issue.
In the United States, gay marriage is currently legal in 19 states and the US capital.