Three Utah counties which had refused to abide by an order legalizing gay marriage in the state have started issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Officials in Box Elder, San Juan and Utah counties since Friday have refused to follow U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby's ruling declaring the state's gay marriage ban invalid. In Piute County, the clerk is on vacation. On Thursday, Salt Lake City's Fox 13 News tweeted a photo of a lesbian couple receiving their marriage license in Utah County, home of Brigham Young University.

In his 52-page ruling, Shelby declared Amendment 3, the state's 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment which limits marriage to heterosexual unions, in violation of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The three counties said that they would wait to see how the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver would rule in the state's request for an emergency stay. On Tuesday, Christmas Eve, the appeals court denied the state's request, concluding that “a stay is not warranted.”

State officials said Tuesday that they would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who oversees the 10th U.S. Circuit Court, is expected to receive the request for an emergency stay on Thursday.