updated 5/13/2004 6:00:27 PM ET 2004-05-13T22:00:27

A federal judge Thursday rejected a last-minute bid by conservative groups to block the nation’s first state-sanctioned gay marriages from taking place in Massachusetts next week.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro said Massachusetts’ high court acted within its authority in interpreting the Massachusetts Constitution.

The plaintiffs immediately announced they would take their case to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Tauro heard arguments Wednesday on a petition spearheaded by the Florida-based Liberty Counsel and joined by the Catholic Action League, 11 state lawmakers and conservative legal groups in Boston, Michigan and Mississippi.

Mathew Staver, president and general counsel of the Liberty Counsel, had argued that the state’s high court overstepped its bounds when it ruled in November that gay marriage should be legal in Massachusetts. He pleaded with the federal judge to “prevent this constitutional train wreck.”

A state attorney arguing on behalf of the Supreme Judicial Court said that the court based its ruling on the Massachusetts Constitution and that the case did not belong in federal court.

The Massachusetts court ruled that city and town clerks could begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples beginning on Monday.

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