A federal judge on Tuesday struck down a Pennsylvania law which prohibits gay and lesbian couples from marrying.

“We now join the twelve federal district courts across the country which, when confronted with these inequities in their own states, have concluded that all couples deserve equal dignity in the realm of civil marriage,” U.S. District Judge John E. Jones wrote in his 39-page ruling.

“[W]e hold that Pennsylvania's Marriage Laws violate both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. … By virtue of this ruling, same-sex couples who seek to marry in Pennsylvania may do so, and already married same-sex couples will be recognized as such in the Commonwealth,” he added.

Plaintiffs in the case are 11 gay couples and a widow.

The decision comes a day after a federal judge knocked down Oregon's ban, clearing the way for Oregon to become the 18th state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to allow gay couples to marry.

Deb and Susan Whitewood, together 22 years with two teenage daughters and a two-year-old son, are the lead plaintiffs in the Pennsylvania suit.

The Whitewoods are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which filed the case in Federal District Court in Harrisburg on July 9.

The case was scheduled to go to trial in June, but attorneys for the plaintiffs last month asked Jones to deliver a ruling without a trial.

At least four additional legal challenges to Pennsylvania's restrictive marriage law have been filed in state and federal courts.