San Francisco (AP) - A federal appeals court on Wednesday refused to allow gay marriages to take place in California while it considers the constitutionality of the state's ban.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris had joined gay marriage proponents in urging the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to lift a stay that had been placed on a lower court's ruling to strike down Proposition 8.
In a letter to the court earlier this month, Harris said sponsors of Proposition 8 were unlikely to prevail in their appeal. Keeping it in effect, therefore, was a fruitless violation of gay Californians' civil rights, Harris said.
"The public interest weighs heavily against the government sanctioning such discrimination by permitting it to continue," she wrote.
Lawyers for two same-sex couples had sought again to lift the stay after the California Supreme Court recently said it would take at least until the end of the year to consider a legal question asked by the appeals court in the case.
Proposition 8 sponsors denied that their chances of a successful appeal were dim and opposed the request to lift the stay.