Feb. 26 (Bloomberg) — A federal judge called Texas's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, ordering the law temporarily blocked while opponents pursue litigation seeking to overturn it. He then delayed his ruling so the state can appeal.

The pre-trial ruling by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia extended to the nation's second-largest state a run of courtroom victories by gay union proponents. By staying his decision to allow for an expected state challenge, however, the ban remains in effect. Texas officials may seek a reversal of his judgment with the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

The Texas state constitution was amended to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples and reject recognition of such marriages performed in another state. Garcia agreed with two couples who challenge the ban that last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling ordering recognition of gay marriage for federal benefits may undermine Texas's ban. The plaintiffs contend the law treats same-sex couples as "second-class citizens."

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