A California appeals court has extended the ban on gay marriage until the end of this year.

After US District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the ban was unconstitutional, weddings were to begin today at 5pm.

However, opponents took the case to the 9th District Court of Appeals last night, successfully arguing that the ban should stay in place until they have appealed.

But the court also demanded that gay marriage opponents must argue why they have the legal standing to bring the case to court.

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown are the legal defendants in the case but both have refused to support it. Last week, they both called for Judge Walker to lift the ban immediately.

The main defenders of Proposition 8 were groups such as ProtectMarriage.com, which led the campaign to get the issue on the November 2008 ballot.

In their appeal, gay marriage opponents argued that the vast majority of countries around the world restrict marriage to heterosexual couples as it serves a “vital societal interest”.

Equality California executive director Geoff Kors said in a statement: “We are extremely disappointed that loving same-sex couples will have to wait to marry, and that we are once again being denied our fundamental rights.

“However, we are optimistic for a favorable ruling, and we?re hopeful that same-sex couples will be able to marry as soon as possible.”
Earlier this month, Judge Walker ruled that the ban was unconstitutional. Last Thursday, he ruled that ceremonies should begin again, giving opponents a week to appeal.

His ruling after a three-week trial in the spring, in which gay groups argued that allowing gay couples to marry would protect their children and give them more political power.

Around 18,000 gay couples married in 2008, before the ban came into power.

Further appeal proceedings against the lifting of the ban will take place on December 6th.

Experts expect the case will come before the Supreme Court in two years’ time.