The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeal has declined to lift its stay on an order overturning California’s gay marriage ban.

The court was asked to allow gay marriages to take place while legal processes continue but did not grant the request from the American Foundation for Equal Rights.

The court is currently considering an August 2010 judgment which ruled that the ban, known as Prop 8, is unconstitutional.

It says it will not make a decision until the state Supreme Court rules on whether gay marriage opponents have the legal standing to appeal the original judgment.

California officials have refused to defend Prop 8 and the case looks set to drag on over the course of the year.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court denied a request from gay couples to present its decision before May 23rd.

Campaigners had argued that the Californian legal code requires courts to reach speedy decisions when they impact on individuals over the age of 70.

Some of the gay couples currently denied the right to marry as a result of Proposition 8 are over that age and may die before a judgment is made.