A federal judge on Friday declined to lift a stay on a ruling striking down Texas' ban on gay marriage.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia declared the ban invalid in February. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is set to review an appeal in the case next month.

Garcia said that lifting the stay now and allowing gay couples to marry would only be temporary and cause confusion.

Plaintiff couples Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman of Austin and Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes of Plano asked Garcia to allow his ruling to take effect immediately.

“These delays are harming not just us, but they are harming hundreds of thousands of other gays in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana,” Phariss said Friday. “Vic and I are deeply in love. We've been together more than 17 years. We filed to get married 14 months ago. We filed the lawsuit 12 months ago. And we won 10 months ago. How much longer do we have to wait?”

Garcia said in his ruling that lifting the stay would only bring temporary relief; the Fifth Circuit, which recently stayed a similar ruling from Mississippi, would most likely respond with its own stay.

“Lifting the stay would not bring finality to this Fourteenth Amendment claim,” Garcia wrote in his ruling. “To the contrary, such action would only be temporary, with confusion and doubt to follow. The day for finality and legal certainty in the long and difficult journey for equality is closer than ever before.”

Neel Lane, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs, responded: “Our clients are eager for marriage equality to come to Texas, and it looks like Judge Garcia is too, but he felt his hands were tied by the Fifth Circuit's recent ruling in the Mississippi case.”