SAN ANTONIO — A U.S. District Court judge Feb. 26 struck down a Texas constitutional amendment that defined marriage as being only between one man and one woman.

Judge Orlando Garcia also said it was unconstitutional for the state not to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples performed in other states.

Garcia put his decision on hold until it can be appealed.

The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by two gay couples against the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, which had been in place since 2005.

One of the couples who sued was wed in Massachusetts and wants Texas to recognize the marriage. The other gay couple wants to get married in Texas.

"Regulation of marriage has traditionally been the province of the states and remains so today," Garcia wrote in the 48-page ruling. "However, any state law involving marriage or any other protected interest must comply with the United States Constitution."

The Catholic Church opposes same-sex marriage. It upholds the sanctity of traditional marriage, between one man and one woman, and also teaches that any sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful.

In a recent blog posting, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, said that  challenges to state laws in federal courts have made it clear that "the marriage debate we are having in this country is not about access to the right of marriage, but the very meaning of marriage."

The day after Garcia handed down his decision, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II in Louisville, Ky., issued an order instructing Kentucky officials to immediately recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

AP reported that Heyburn's order has no effect on a suit filed Feb. 14 by a Kentucky couple suing to force the state to issue same-sex marriage licenses.