A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a brief order turning down the couples' request that the panel lift a stay of a lower court ruling that allowed same-sex marriages.
The lower court ruling by now-retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco, said that Proposition 8, the state's ban on same-sex marriage, violated the U.S. Constitution.
Sponsors of the voter initiative are now seeking to appeal Walker's ruling to the federal appeals court.
The case has taken a detour to the California Supreme Court, which was asked by the federal court to decide whether the initiative sponsors have the right to appeal, in view of the fact that Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris have declined to do so.