South Carolina on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to stay a ruling striking down the state's ban on gay marriage as it pursues an appeal.

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel of Charleston struck down the ban as unconstitutional and ordered the state to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples on Thursday at noon.

Attorney General Alan Wilson and Governor Nikki Haley, both Republicans, asked the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond to stay Gergel's order.

A 3-judge panel on Tuesday unanimously turned down their request.

Within hours, Wilson filed a similar request with Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who oversees federal courts in South Carolina.

Wilson explained in a statement that the state continues “to believe the doctrine of federalism and the Tenth Amendment should allow South Carolina's unique laws to be considered at the highest appropriate court of appeal.”