HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge in Montana has overturned the state's ban on gay marriage.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris ruled Wednesday that Montana's constitutional amendment limiting marriage to between a man and a woman violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in September that Idaho and Nevada's bans are unconstitutional. Montana is part of the 9th Circuit, and Morris cited the Circuit Court's opinion in his ruling.

The move comes after four same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in May challenging Montana's gay marriage ban. Morris wrote in his decision that Montana no longer can deprive plaintiffs and other same-sex couples of the chance to marry their loves. He says his ruling is effective immediately.