WASHINGTON (AP) — -

The Supreme Court is delaying the start of same-sex marriage in Virginia.

The court on Wednesday granted a request from a county clerk in northern Virginia to block same-sex marriages across the state while the issue is being appealed to the Supreme Court. The court provided no explanation for its order.

Without court intervention, same-sex couples would have been allowed to wed as of Thursday.

In January, the justices issued an order putting same-sex unions on hold in Utah while the federal appeals court in Denver was hearing the case. That court upheld the decision striking down Utah's gay marriage ban, but delayed its decision from taking effect pending appeal to the Supreme Court.

Most other federal court decisions in favor of same-sex marriage also have been put on hold.

STATEMENT OF ATTORNEY GENERAL MARK HERRING

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States granted a motion by the Prince William County Clerk of Court to stay the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision striking down Virginia's ban on marriage for same-sex couples. This means that no marriages between same-sex couples may be performed or recognized until the Supreme Court has an opportunity to evaluate requests for review of the case. Attorney General Mark Herring, a supporter of marriage equality who successfully argued against Virginia's marriage ban at the federal district and appeals levels, has already petitioned the Supreme Court for prompt review of the case, and has taken steps to allow the Court to resolve the constitutional issues quickly and definitively.
Attorney General Herring issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court's stay:
"This case has moved with extraordinary pace, from filing to a possible review by the U.S. Supreme Court in just one year. But it is still difficult to expect Virginians to wait to exercise what I believe is a fundamental right, especially when we are so close to our goal. That's why I've been fighting for marriage equality and working to expedite the case so the Supreme Court can definitively answer the constitutional questions about marriage equality and permanently protect the families of Virginia's same-sex couples. I reluctantly agreed that a stay was warranted in light of the way the Supreme Court handled a nearly identical case in Utah, and because of the potential that an adverse Supreme Court ruling might cause children adopted by a second parent to have that adoption heartbreakingly invalidated, death benefits conferred to grieving spouses taken away, and spousal benefits families thought would pay the bills thrown into limbo.
"Virginia's case is waiting for the Supreme Court's review, as are several others from around the country, and I have petitioned for an extraordinarily speedy review from the Court. Virginia families suffer each day that this decision is delayed."