The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled Monday that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
The 2-1 ruling upheld a previous decision issued earlier this year by a Virginia district court, which struck down the state's ban on gay marriages.
"Virginia has failed to advance a compelling state interest justifying its definition of marriage as between only a man and a woman," reads the ruling. "Virginia's laws declining to recognize same-sex marriage infringe the fundamental right to marriage and are therefore unconstitutional."
The circuit court also has jurisdiction over three other states with similar bans: North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia. As noted in the 4th Circuit's ruling, the Southern District of West Virginia stayed a challenge to the state's ban pending Monday's ruling.
In the ruling, Judge Henry Floyd argued that personal opposition to same-sex unions is not a legitimate legal basis for banning gay marriage.
"We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable," Floyd wrote. "However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws. ... The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual's life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society."
As the Associated Press notes, the Virginia ruling is one of several gay marriage cases that may be appealed to the Supreme Court.
Read the ruling below: