The Supreme Court denied a request for a stay on a federal judge's decision to legalize gay marriage in Oregon on Wednesday.
The request was filed by the National Organization for Marriage, or NOM, after state attorneys declined to continue arguing the issue in court.
U.S. District Judge Michael McShane ruled on May 19 that the Oregon's voter-approved ban against gay marriage is unconstitutional, and ordered officials not to enforce it. Litigation regarding same-sex marriage in the state has lasted for a decade, and has included public hearings, an Oregon Supreme Court review, and a ballot initiative.
In 2004, Oregon voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage in biblical terms—the union of a man and a woman.
NOM filed an appeal last month in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court asking that they be allowed to fight for biblical marriage on behalf of Oregon voters. The group faces an uphill battle, as the Supreme Court ruled in California that a third-party cannot defend a state law. NOM Chairman and attorney John Eastman said that it was that legal hurdle that led the Supreme Court to reject their request for a stay.
"We knew going in that we had a lot of procedural baggage with our case," he told the Associated Press.
"We thought it was important to make the effort, but we will continue to press ahead with our appeal, which remains alive, on our right to intervene in this case."
Neighboring Idaho has vowed to fight for biblical marriage all the way to the Supreme Court. The state is appealing a federal judge's May 13 decision to reverse their 2006 gay marriage ban. A request for a stay of the decision was approved on appeal.
Same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states, including Washington D.C. Last year, the Supreme Court allowed same-sex partners to receive federal benefits.