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      Federal judge strikes down Texas gay marriage ban

      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.