(CN) - The 9th Circuit declined to let gay couples marry in California while the state Supreme Court decides the fate of an appeal by the proponents of Proposition 8.
The simple paragraph order from the circuit's three-judge panel states that the court cannot allow the motion "at this time."
Challengers to the state's ban on gay marriage sought relief from the federal appeals panel on Feb. 23 - the same day that the Obama administration told Congress that it would abandon the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. California Attorney General Kamala Harris joined the fight earlier this month.
The 9th Circuit imposed the stay in August, blocking gay and lesbian couples from obtaining marriage licenses in California. Gay marriage advocates argued that the cases detour to the state Supreme Court, which agreed to intervene in February, has prohibitively augmented what was meant to be a temporary stay. They say the court will likely resolve the matter by February or March 2012, at which point the case would then presumably return to the 9th Circuit for further deliberations.
In January the 9th Circuit said it was unsure how to proceed with the appeal before it since former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former state Attorney General Jerry Brown, who now serves as California's 39th governor, would not defend Proposition 8 or appeal a federal judge's ruling that found the voter initiative was unconstitutional.
ProtectMarriage.com, the Sacramento-based conservative legal group that sponsored Proposition 8, filed a brief with the California Supreme Court last week, arguing that they have standing to appeal the landmark ruling that struck the ban down as unconstitutional. The group unsuccessfully petitioned the state supreme and appellate courts to force the legislators' support in September 2010.
Combined with the government's disavowal of the Defense of Marriage Act, gay marriage supporters say the conservative group that sponsored Proposition 8 is not likely to succeed in its appeal and win a reversal of the decision that found the voter initiative unconstitutional.
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