The likelihood that the state of Alabama will begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples on Monday became more certain on Tuesday when an appeals court refused to delay implementation of a federal judge's rulings striking down the state's ban on gay marriage.

U.S. District Judge Callie “Ginny” Granade found the state's ban unconstitutional in two cases, which she stayed until Monday, February 9.

Alabama officials turned to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, asking it to stay Granade's rulings as the state pursues an appeal.

“The Attorney General of the State of Alabama's motions for a stay pending appeal are DENIED,” the court wrote in a brief order.

“We are pleased that the Eleventh Circuit recognized there is no reason to further delay full equality for all Alabama couples,” said Christopher Stoll, senior staff attorney for NCLR, which is representing plaintiffs in one of the cases. “Each day that committed couples are denied the freedom to marry, they are left without important legal protections that offer a safety net in times of illness or financial hardship. Now that the court of appeals has spoken, all Alabama couples can enjoy the freedom to marry next Monday.”

Officials are likely to turn to the Supreme Court, which has not halted similar rulings in other states since October 6, the day it refused to hear appeals in cases challenging bans in five states. Most recently, the high court refused to set aside a ruling ordering Florida to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

(Brief provided by Equality Case Files.)