A federal judge late Thursday struck down Virginia's ban on gay marriage.

“Virginia's marriage laws … limit the fundamental right to marry to only those Virginia citizens willing to choose a member of the opposite gender for a spouse. These laws interject profound government interference into one of the most personal choices a person makes,” U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen said in her ruling handed down less than 10 days after hearing oral arguments in the case, Bostic v. Rainey.

“The Court is compelled to conclude that Virginia's Marriage Laws unconstitutionally deny Virginia's gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental freedom to choose to marry,” she added.

Allen stayed her ruling pending an appeal.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), which successfully litigated against a similar ban in California, joined the suit in September.

“This is a monumental victory – for Virginia and our country – and the first of its kind for a state in the South,” AFER said in an emailed statement announcing the ruling.

The suit received a boost last month when Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced that he would not defend the ban in court, leaving the task to the Circuit Court of Clerks of Norfolk and Prince William County.