The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday put a hold on a lower court's order declaring Utah's gay marriage ban invalid.

More than 1,000 gay and lesbian couples have married since U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby on December 20 struck down Amendment 3, the state's 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment which limits marriage to heterosexual couples.

Shelby and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver denied the state's previous requests for a stay as an appeal moves forward.

In filing its 25-page application for a stay, Utah officials argued that they were attempting to avert “irreparable harm” to gay couples and their families and that each marriage was an “affront” to the state's right to define marriage.

Plaintiffs in the case, three gay couples, called on the court to allow the weddings to continue.

A ruling from the appeals court, which placed the case on a fast track, is expected by the summer, which means that the issue could reach the Supreme Court for the session starting at the end of this year.