The Iowa Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling today that ruled that Iowa’s same-sex marriage ban violated the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples.

Thus, gay marriage will be legal in the state of Iowa. It is the third state in which gay marriage is now officially recognized, joining Massachussetts and Connecticut.

The Iowa state government had passed a state law declaring that marriage was legally recognizable only between a man and a woman. In 2007, Iowa district court judge Robert Hanson had ruled that the law violated the state constitution’s equal protection clause.

The Iowa Supreme Court today upheld the 2007 district court judge’s ruling that the ban violates the state constitution. With the ruling, the Iowa Supreme court issued a summary that stated that the same-sex marriage ban must be “declared void even though it may be supported by strong and deep-seated traditional beliefs and popular opinion.”

In 2005, the case challenging the same-sex marriage ban was brought by Lamba Legal, a gay rights organization, on behalf of six gay and lesbian couples who had been denied marriage licenses.

The case is a surprising and significant victory for those advocating gay marriage rights. Last year, gay marriage proponents faced a significant setback with the passage of Proposition 8 in California, which banned same-sex marriage in the state.

With so many interpretations among the states, this controversy will likely make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court soon.