The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday refused to stay a ruling striking down South Carolina's ban on gay marriage.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel declared the ban invalid and ordered the state to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples starting on Thursday at noon.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, a Republican, on Tuesday asked Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to stay Gergel's order as the state pursues an appeal.

“The application for stay presented to The Chief Justice and by him referred to the Court is denied,” the court stated in its 1-page order. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

The first gay couple to marry in South Carolina did so on Wednesday after a probate judge issued the state's first licenses to same-sex couples.

(Related: Gay couples receive marriage licenses in South Carolina.)