Washington: A federal judge has ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage in Idaho is unconstitutional, paving the way for gay weddings to take place in the western US state this week.
Judge Candy Dale ruled Tuesday in favor of a challenge brought by four same-sex couples against the ban, which means they cannot marry or have existing, legal marriages recognized.
The judge said she "concluded that the challenged laws violate the rights of Idaho`s gay and lesbian citizens under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution."
She issued a permanent injunction "against the enforcement of any Idaho law that prohibits same-sex marriage or prevents recognition of existing, legal same-sex marriages."
Unless a higher court overturns her ruling, it will take effect as of 9:00 am (1500 GMT) Friday, said a court statement.
"We are ecstatic," said Sue Latta, one of those who brought legal action in November. "It couldn`t have been a better ruling, and we couldn`t be happier," she added, as cited by local media.
Judges in Arkansas, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Virginia have recently ruled in favor of gay marriage.
The rulings follow a landmark Supreme Court decision in June last year finding that couples in same-sex marriages were entitled to the same benefits and protections as their heterosexual counterparts.
Marriage laws are governed by individual US states, more than 30 of which still ban same-sex weddings.