A federal appeals court in California on Wednesday refused to allow gay and lesbian weddings to resume as it considers the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the state's 2008 voter-approved gay marriage ban, the AP reported.

Last year, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled the law unconstitutional. The decision was appealed by supporters of the ban and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals placed Walker's ruling on hold.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs asked the court to lift the stay when the case was sidetracked to the California Supreme Court.

After hearing oral arguments in December, the appeals court turned to the state's highest court to decide whether the law's sponsors have the legal standing to defend it in court.

“We felt then, as we do now, that it is decidedly unjust and unreasonable to expect California's gay and lesbian couples to put their lives on hold and suffer daily discrimination … while their U.S. District Court victory comes to its final conclusion,” said Chad Griffin, board chair of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, a group formed specifically to argue the case.

In their filing, plaintiffs' lawyers argued that it's highly unlikely that the law's backers will prevail in their legal challenge.

“Proposition 8 – and the stay that allows it to remain in force – is causing great damage,” the lawyers wrote in their brief. “It is not merely deferring wedding dates, as Proponents suggest. For those near the end of life, it is denying the right to marry outright.”

“Proposition 8 carries an unmistakable message – transmitted and enforced by the State and tolerated by this Court – that gay men and lesbians are members of a class of persons unworthy of the fundamental right of marriage and the 'protection of equal laws.'”