There will be no same-sex couples marrying in California this week.
Many gay and lesbian couples were planning on getting married as early as this Wednesday but a ruling late Monday changed their plans.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals imposed an emergency stay Monday on a trial court judge's ruling overturning the ban, known as Proposition 8.
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker had ordered state officials to stop enforcing the measure starting Wednesday, clearing the way for county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Prop 8 opponents called the ruling another delay in their constitutional rights of equality.
"I think it's putting off the inevitable, "said gay marriage supporter Zach Weagley. "We are eventually going to get the right. It's just a matter of time."
Lawyers for the two gay couples who challenged the ban said Monday they would not appeal the panel's decision on the stay to the U.S. Supreme Court. They said they were satisfied the appeals court had agreed to fast-track its consideration of the Proposition 8 case by scheduling oral arguments for the week of Dec. 6.
Supporters of banning same-sex marriage in the state believe the judges made the right decision to put those marriages on hold until an appeals court hears the case later this year.
"I think they should personally respect the will of the people by reserving marriage between a man and a woman," said Prop. 8 supporter Terry Remple.
"Invalidating the people's vote based on just one judge's opinion would not have been appropriate, and would have shaken the people's confidence in our elections and the right to vote itself," said Andy Pugno, general counsel for the coalition of religious and conservative groups that sponsored Proposition 8.
Thomas Jefferson of Law professor David Steinberg said Monday's ruling is the next step toward a higher court.
"This case is going to be stayed until the United States Supreme Court reaches a decision and I'd be surprised if they reached it before June of next year," Steinberg said.
A different three-judge panel than the one that issued Monday's decision will be assigned to decide the constitutional question that many believe will eventually end up before the Supreme Court.
County clerks throughout the state had been preparing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples for the first time since Proposition 8 passed in November 2008. The measure amended the California Constitution to overrule a state Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex unions earlier that year.
Currently, same-sex couples can legally wed in Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C.