Pennsylvania county clerks started issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples Tuesday following a federal judge's ruling declaring the state's ban on such unions invalid.

“We are better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history,” U.S. District Judge John E. Jones wrote in his 39-page ruling.

Jones, a Republican, was recommended to the bench by former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, a vocal opponent of gay rights.

“Has Rick Santorum's head exploded yet!” The Huffington Post's Mike Signorile rhetorically asked on Twitter.

(Related: Federal judge strikes down Pennsylvania's gay marriage ban.)

While Pennsylvania has a three-day waiting period, a judge may elect to waive the requirement.

Rue Landau and Kerry Smith were the first couple to be issued a legal marriage license in Pennsylvania, according to a tweet from WHYY's Tom MacDonald.