The US Supreme Court has unanimously ruled to delay same-sex marriages taking place in Virginia.
A lower court in the state had overturned a voter-approved amendment that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
But a county clerk asked for the ruling to be delayed, and the matter was referred to the US Supreme Court.
The request was granted, and now pending further legal appeal, same-sex marriages cannot take place in Virginia.
Last year, the Supreme Court did not redefine marriage throughout the US, instead ruling that each state could decide for itself whether it wants same-sex marriage.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which campaigns against the redefinition of marriage, said the Supreme Court’s ruling on Virginia bodes well.
NOM’s president Brian Brown said that one of the conditions of overturning a lower court’s ruling “is the reasonable expectation of victory on appeal”.
He said they “remain confident” that the Supreme Court will uphold the traditional marriage laws and constitutional amendments that have been “wrongly invalidated by federal judges”.
“We are pleased that the US Supreme Court has put a halt to the decision in Virginia redefining marriage in violation of the state’s marriage amendment overwhelmingly approved by voters.
“We had called upon the Court to take this step and are gratified that they will now be able to carefully consider the issues.
“This is another indication that the rush to judgment declaring marriage to be unconstitutional is not only premature, but incorrect”, Brown added.
Religious liberty organisation Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) had asked the US Supreme Court to delay the implementation of the lower court’s decision in Virginia.
Byron Babione, a senior lawyer for ADF, said: “By granting our request to place a hold on the 4th Circuit’s decision, the Supreme Court is making clear, as it already did in the Utah marriage case, that it believes a dignified process is better than disorder.
“The Supreme Court acted wisely in restraining the lower court from implementing a ruling of this magnitude before the high court has a chance to decide the issue”, he added.
The Supreme Court made a similar unanimous ruling on Utah earlier this year, delaying same-sex marriages from taking place.
Lawyers representing same-sex couples who want marriage to be redefined in Virginia, Oklahoma and Utah have this week urged the Supreme Court to take up the issue this term and make an ultimate ruling. They expect the court to consider the matter by the end of next month.