Shortly after a federal judge on Friday struck down Utah's gay marriage ban as unconstitutional, reports have surfaced that a county clerk's office has started issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

In his 53-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby said Amendment 3, the state's 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment which limits marriage to heterosexual unions, violates the 14th Amendment.

Shelby said that “fears and speculations” about how allowing gay couples to marry would affect opposite-sex marriages “are insufficient to justify the State's refusal to dignify the family relationships of its gay and lesbian citizens.”

According to the AP, Salt Lake County Deputy Clerk Dahnelle Burton-Lee has started issuing licenses.

The state has not said whether it will appeal the ruling.

Attorneys for the state argued during a nearly 4-hour hearing held earlier this month that Utah is acting rationally to foster a culture of “responsible procreation.” They also argued that the law creates the “optimal mode of child-rearing.”

The decision is the first in a number of legal challenges filed in response to a Supreme Court ruling in June striking down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibited federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay couples.

Plaintiffs in the case are three gay couples, one of which wants an Iowa marriage recognized in Utah.

“We cannot capture in words the gratitude and joy plaintiffs feel,” Peggy Tomsic, attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement.

The ruling comes a day after the New Mexico Supreme Court legalized marriage for gay couples.

(Related: New Mexico: 17th state to legalize gay marriage.)

Nearly a decade before voters approved Amendment 3, Utah lawmakers approved the nation's first law prohibiting a state from recognizing the legal marriages of gay couples. Utah is also home to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, which played a prominent role in passage of Proposition 8, California's now-defunct marriage ban.