updated 5/16/2006 7:08:07 PM ET 2006-05-16T23:08:07

A judge has struck down Georgia's ban on same-sex marriages, saying the measure that was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2004 had violated the state constitution's single-subject rule for ballot questions.

"Procedural safeguards such as the single-subject rule rarely enjoy public support," Fulton County Superior Court Judge Constance C. Russell wrote. "But, ultimately it is those safeguards that preserve our liberties, because they ensure that the actions of government are constrained by the rule of law."

Activists had long awaited Russell's ruling in their court challenge, which was originally filed in November 2004, soon after the constitutional ban was approved in that year's general election.

"It's a victory for voters," said Jack Senterfitt, who challenged the amendment on behalf of gay rights organization Lambda Legal. "Ultimately it is those safeguards that preserve our liberties. And the reason it's a victory for voters is that it protects the right of voters to make independent decisions on each independent issue."

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