A federal judge on Wednesday ruled Texas' ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.

In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia said that the state's marriage laws demean the dignity of gay and lesbian couples for “no legitimate reason.”

“Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution,” Garcia wrote.

Garcia stayed his ruling pending an appeal.

Federal judges have knocked down all or part of similar bans in Utah, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Virginia.

“Today the 6th federal judge in a row has ruled – in Texas – that there is simply no legitimate justification for denying marriage to loving gay and lesbian couples,” Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, said in an emailed statement. “The court's holding is solid and serious, and follows the language and logic of the Supreme Court's marriage ruling last year and the Constitution's clear command. With 47 marriage cases in 25 states now moving forward, and the possibility that a freedom to marry case will again reach the Supreme Court as soon as 2015, we must continue the conversation and progress – Texan to Texan, American to American – that show that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry.”

Plaintiffs in the suit are two gay couples. Cleopatra de Leon and Nicole Dimetman of Austin married in Massachusetts but a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2005 prohibits Texas from recognizing their marriage. The law also prevents San Antonio couple Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss from marrying. The couple was denied a marriage license in November.

Phariss, a lawyer, and Holmes, an Air Force veteran, have been in a relationship for 17 years.

“We love each other and, like most straight couples who love each other, we want to get married,” Pharris told The Dallas Morning News.

State lawyers asked Judge Garcia to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that Texas is “promoting the state's interest in responsible procreation and childbearing.”