A federal judge on Monday ordered Ohio to recognize the out-of-state marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Black's decision was entirely expected.

After hearing arguments in the case on April 4, Black announced that he would rule in favor of the four plaintiff couples challenging Ohio's ban on gay marriage.

“Plaintiffs and other affected same-sex couples require injunctive and declaratory relief to lift the stigma imposed by Defendants' disrespect for their spousal and parental statuses,” Black wrote in his 45-page ruling. “Imposition of these burdens on same-sex couples serves no legitimate public interest that could counteract the severe and irreparable harm imposed by the recognition bans.”

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, applauded the ruling.

“Couples who are married should be treated as married no matter where they are in the country, including Ohio,” Wolfson said in an emailed statement. “Couples should not have to play 'now you're married, now you're not' as they travel, work, move or return home. This is a good day for families and businesses in Ohio, and a good day for the Constitution and America.”

Black will consider staying his order pending an expected appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

Attorney Al Gerhardstein of Cincinnati, who is representing the couples, originally was seeking marriage recognition on birth certificates.

He amended his request to ask Black to strike down Ohio's 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment prohibiting the state from recognizing any union other than a heterosexual marriage. He explained that he had only asked Black to recognize marriages from states which allow gay couples to marry.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has already said that he would appeal the ruling.

All four states under the Sixth Circuit's jurisdiction – Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee – have appealed or are planning to appeal similar rulings to the appeals court.