West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey last week asked a federal judge to keep from issuing a ruling in a lawsuit challenging West Virginia's ban on gay marriage.

Plaintiff couples challenging the ban asked U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers to issue a ruling in their favor following the outcome in a related case challenging Virginia's ban.

On Monday, a 3-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond upheld a lower court's ruling striking down Virginia's ban. Defendants have said they will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Fourth Circuit holds jurisdiction over North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia. After the court ruled, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that his office would no longer defend the state's marriage ban in court.

In June, Chambers said he was waiting for the Fourth Circuit's decision before proceeding in the case.

“To lift the stay at this time and move forward in this case based on a non-final decision of the Fourth Circuit would defeat the very point of this Court having issued the stay in the first place,” Morrisey's office stated in its brief.

New York-based Lambda Legal is representing 3 gay couples and the child of one couple in the lawsuit filed in October in U.S. District Court in Huntington. Lambda Legal argues that West Virginia's ban violates the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Lawyers previously asked Chambers to strike down the state's law, enacted in 2000, prohibiting their clients from marrying, saying that it is unconstitutional under any standard of review.

“There's absolutely no reason for the court not to decide this case,” Beth Littrell, an attorney with Lambda Legal, is quoted as saying by The Charleston Gazette. “It has clear precedent from the appellate court that is binding on it. There's no reason to not go forward and issue a decision in this case.”

In comments to NBC affiliate WVVA, Morrisey said he filed the motion to prevent confusion.

“It's what a lot of Democrats and Republicans have done around the country because you don't want to have confusion,” Morrisey said. “West Virginia has 55 counties. You don't want to have all the counties disagreeing with each other. Just even in recent days, I've received calls, and I've seen requests coming from the county clerks to rule on things, and they're getting different opinions.”