Gay and lesbian couples began marrying Wednesday in St. Louis after a state judge ruled the state's gay marriage ban unconstitutional.

“The Court finds and declares that any same sex couple that satisfies all the requirements for marriage under Missouri law, other than being of different sexes, is legally entitled to a marriage license,” St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison wrote in his 15-page ruling.

Burlison did not stay his ruling and St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Jennifer Florida began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster immediately appealed the ruling to the Missouri Supreme Court but did not ask for a stay.

The city choreographed the challenge by marrying four gay couples in June, forcing Koster to sue the city for violating Missouri's 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples. The ruling is limited to St. Louis.

Slay told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that city officials acted “because it was the right thing to do.”

“I want St. Louis to be the sort of diverse and open place in which all families – gay and straight – choose to live, be creative, and build businesses,” Slay said.

Lilly Leyh, 25, and Sadie Pierce, 27, were the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license.

April Breeden and Crystal Peairs, both 38, exchanged vows on the marble steps of the City Hall rotunda.

A ruling last month forcing Missouri to recognize the out-of-state marriages of gay couples is not being appealed by the state.