The US state of Utah has officially filed to ask the US Supreme Court to put on hold the issue of marriage licences to same-sex couples.

Last week , US District Judge Robert Shelby refused to block his own ruling making equal marriage legal in the state.

The filing made on Tuesday by the state asks Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to overturn the decision. Justice Sotomayor is responsible for emergency requests from Utah.

She has set a deadline of noon on Friday for legal briefs from same-sex couples. She may act alone or get other justices involved.

Many have noted that the longer the marriages go on, the less likely it will be for any court to put a stay on the ruling.

The brief complained: “Numerous same-sex marriages are now occurring every day in Utah… Each one is an affront not only to the interests of the state and its citizens in being able to define marriage through ordinary democratic channels, but also to this court’s unique role as final arbiter.”

Last Friday, same-sex couples in Utah began queuing to marry after Judge Shelby ruled that the state’s equal marriage ban was unconstitutional.

About 900 gay couples had obtained licenses since Friday, with most of the activity in Salt Lake City.

Utah – better known for the Mormon Church than for progressive politics – was the 18th US state to legalise equal marriage.

The new Attorney General of Utah, Sean Reyes, attempted to justify the state’s decision to spend what is being estimated as at least $2 million (£1,200,000) of taxpayers’ money on challenging the ruling.

Just moments after being sworn in on Monday, Attorney General Sean Reyes told reporters that the state is ready to appeal US District Judge Robert Shelby’s landmark ruling by taking it to the US Supreme Court.

The state has come under heavy criticism for continuing to fight against the ruling.

On Tuesday Utah also advertised a formal bid for help from outside law firms to help prepare the appeals.