An Arkansas state judge struck down an Arkansas law and state constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Calling the ban an “unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality,” Circuit judge Chris Piazza ruled Friday in Wright v. Arkansas that the state legislative and constitutional bans on same-sex marriage violate the state constitution and the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

In his decision, Piazza cited Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court case that eliminated the ban on interracial marriage, and rejected the notion that religious objections to same-sex marriage were reason enough to support a ban. “A marriage license is a civil document and is not, nor can it be, based upon any particular faith,” he wrote. “Same-sex couples are a morally disliked minority and the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages is driven by animus rather than a rational basis. This violates the United States Constitution.”

“It has been over forty years since Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her choice,” continued Piazza. “The hatred and fears have long since vanished and she and her husband lived full lives together; so it will be for the same-sex couples. It is time to let that beacon of freedom shine brighter on all our brothers and sisters. We will be stronger for it.”

Judge Piazza did not stay his ruling in anticipation of an appeal. Couples immediately obtained marriage licenses this morning, lining up before dawn at the state’s largest courthouse. Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, however, asked the Arkansas Supreme Court today to suspend Judge Piazza’s ruling in anticipation of his appeal. As of this writing, the state Supreme Court has not issued a decision.

Eight judges have now invalidated state laws prohibiting same-sex marriage, including Oklahoma, Virginia, and Texas this year alone.

Media Resources: Arkansas Times 5/9/14; CBS News 5/12/14; Arkansas KHBS TV 5/12/14; Feminist Newswire 1/15/14, 2/14/14, 2/28/14

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