BY CHRIS TOMLINSON
AUSTIN, Texas -- A federal judge has struck down Texas' ban on gay marriage, but is leaving it in place pending a ruling by an appeals court later this year.
Judge Orlando Garcia issued a preliminary injunction on the ban Wednesday, then suspended his ruling. Two gay couples had challenged the state's constitutional amendment and a longstanding law banning gay marriage.
Under federal court rules, a judge may suspend a law if he or she believes the plaintiffs have a strong case and will suffer if the law is enforced.
Garcia said his injunction against Texas enforcing its ban will take effect once an appeals court has a chance to rule on the issue.
The ruling is the latest in a recent series of victories for gay rights activists.