(CNN) -- A federal judge in California has knocked down the state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, ruling Wednesday that the state's controversial Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution.
Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker found in his ruling that the ban violated the Constitution's equal protection clause under the 14th Amendment.
The closely watched case came some two years after Californians voted to pass Proposition 8, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Neither opponents nor supporters of same-sex marriage said before the ruling that it would likely be the last. Both sides said the decision will be appealed and eventually wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling says, in part, "Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians.The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples."
"Race restrictions on marital partners were once common in most states but are now seen as archaic, shameful or even bizarre. When the Supreme Court invalidated race restrictions in Loving, the definition of the right to marry did not change. Instead, the Court recognized that race restrictions, despite their historical prevalence, stood in stark contrast to the concepts of liberty and choice inherent in the right to marry."
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger released this statement: “Today's decision is by no means California's first milestone, nor our last, on America's road to equality and freedom for all people.”
California Attorney General Jerry Brown says via FaceBook: "A great day for all Californians. Justice Walker shares my belief that Prop 8 is unconstitutional."
Not so fast guys and gals! Don't go shopping for that perfect Vera Wang gown just yet. The Prop 8 proponents have been granted a stay that was filed last night when it became clear their side would lose. The ruling will not go into effect until possibly as late as October, so they can prepare an appeal. The reasoning is that they could be another window where gay and lesbian couples could get married only to have to marriages ruled invalid if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds Prop 8.
Stay tuned, folks. This ain't over by a longshot.
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