North Carolina has asked a federal judge to hold off consideration of a case challenging the state's ban on gay marriage until an appeals court rules on a similar case in Virginia.

The Cleveland, Ohio-based United Church of Christ (UCC) filed the lawsuit in March.

The plaintiffs, which also include several gay and lesbian couples who wish to marry, argue that North Carolina's 2012 voter-approved constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It is the first of the nearly 6 dozen marriage equality cases filed nationwide to bring First Amendment religious freedom claims.

“A stay of all proceedings pending the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit's opinion in Bostic v. Schaefer is appropriate in lieu of the requested injunction,” the state argued in a filing Tuesday. “In that case, the Fourth Circuit is considering arguments that are similar to Plaintiffs' claims.”

A three judge panel of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond heard arguments in Bostic v. Schaefer on May 13.

The Fourth Circuit holds appellate jurisdiction over district courts in Virginia and North Carolina.

North Carolina filed its request on the same day that a federal judge put a similar case challenging West Virginia's ban on hold pending the outcome of Bostic.

(Related: Judge puts hold on case challenging West Virginia's gay marriage ban.)

In response to plaintiffs' request for the court to rule on the matter, North Carolina officials argued that “the motion for preliminary injunction should be denied because the injunction sought by Plaintiffs will significantly alter the status quo.”

According to gay weekly Q Notes, the court is expected to respond by June 23.