Same-sex marriage was on hold in California after opponents petitioned a federal appeals court Tuesday to review a split decision by three of its judges that struck down a voter-approved measure that limited marriage to a man and woman.
Lawyers for the religious and legal groups asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the 2-1 decision that declared the ban, known as Proposition 8, to be a violation of the civil rights of gay and lesbian Californians.
If they had not sought reconsideration, the three judges could have ordered the ruling to take effect in another seven days, clearing the way for same-sex marriages to resume in the state.
Instead, same-sex marriages will remain on hold at least until the 9th Circuit decides to accept or reject the rehearing petition. The court does not face a deadline for doing so.
"This gives the entire 9th Circuit a chance to correct this anomalous decision by just two judges overturning the vote of seven million Californians," said Andy Pugno, general counsel for the Protect Marriage coalition.
Legal experts said supporters of the ban could be exhausting all their options before trying to take the case to the Supreme Court. Some experts said the 9th Circuit does not often reverse the decisions of member judges.