HUNTINGTON (AP) — A federal judge on Friday declared West Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, after putting the case on hold pending the outcome of a Virginia case.

U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers in Huntington ruled in a 2013 lawsuit brought by three same-sex couples.

“The right to marry is a fundamental right, giving every individual the opportunity to exercise choice in this important relationship,” Chambers wrote. “As such, the government must not interfere in that choice unless it demonstrates compelling state interests and carefully tailors its restrictions to protect those interests.”

Government restrictions on individual rights must be justified by more than strongly or widely held opinions or traditions on marriage, he said.

“Use of government power to prohibit the exercise of the right to marry fails to meet this test,” he said.

On Oct. 6 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that struck down Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban. The appeals court also has jurisdiction over West Virginia.

On Oct. 9, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said the state would respect the Supreme Court’s decision and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin directed state agencies to take appropriate action, clearing the way for circuit clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

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