A federal judge hearing arguments in a case seeking to force Louisiana to recognize the out-of-state marriages of gay and lesbian couples expanded the case to include whether gay couples should be allowed to wed in the state.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, who was nominated to the bench by Republican President Ronald Reagan, threw lawyers for a loop when he stated he wanted to broaden the case's scope, saying it would be unfair to rule “piecemeal.”

“I feel uncomfortable resolving some issues one way or the other and not all the issues one way or another,” Feldman said at the end of Wednesday's 90-minute hearing in New Orleans.

LGBT rights group Forum for Equality Louisiana filed a case in February on behalf of four gay couples who say the state's refusal to recognize their out-of-state marriages violates the U.S. constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. The case was consolidated with a similar challenge involving two gay couples.

An overwhelming majority (78%) of voters approved Louisiana's 2004 constitutional amendment which states that marriage “shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman” and prohibits state officials and judges from recognizing the out-of-state marriages of gay couples.

The Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the amendment in 2005.