Same-sex marriages will not take place in Virginia until a legal battle being waged in the state ends, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.
The state's gay marriage ban was first challenged in July 2013, and the appeals have reached the nation's highest court. If the motion for a stay was denied, same-sex marriages would have been granted beginning August 21.
In 2006, Virginia voters passed an amendment to their constitution defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The amendment was ruled unconstitutional in several legal proceedings in 2014, the most recent being a July 28 federal appeal upholding a lower court's decision to reverse the gay marriage ban. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court and is pending.
Attorney General Mark Herring said a stay was necessary to prevent "unintended negative consequences if the Court later rules against marriage equality", CBN reports.
"A stay is warranted in light of the negative impact on Virginia children, families, and businesses if the Supreme Court eventually rules against marriage equality and forces an unwinding of Virginians' marriages, adoptions, inheritances, or workplace benefits," a statement read.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Ken Connelly, who represents a Prince William County clerk appealing the gay marriage ban reversal, also supported the motion for a stay.
Connelly maintained that there was no "substantive difference" between the Virginia case and Utah's gay marriage battle, in which the Supreme Court granted stays on federal decisions on two occasions.
Utah's 2004 gay marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional in a federal ruling from 20 December 2013, and more than 1,300 same-sex marriages were performed before a stay on the decision was issued on 6 January. The state has not yet received a final ruling on its gay marriage ban reversal, and the marriages that were performed during the 17-day window are not legal. The fiasco has been cited by other states in their requests for stays on their gay marriage ban reversals.