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The U.S. Supreme Court put a temporary stop to gay marriages in Utah on Monday while the state appeals a decision that had allowed more than 900 couples to tie the knot.

Nicole Barnes and her partner Tarah Camarillo are among more than 900 same-sex couples in Utah who married after a Dec. 20 federal court ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court has now put marriages on hold while the state appeals.JIM URQUHART / Reuters, file

Utah had asked Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who oversees the region, for an emergency order blocking new same-sex marriages, and she referred the matter to the full court.

The heavily Mormon state became the nation's 18th to extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples when U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby weighed in Dec. 20 on a lawsuit challenging a voter-approved ban.

Shelby declined to issue a stay while the state appealed, and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals also refused to put a halt to gay marriages while the case was being considered.

In a brief to the high court, Utah argued that allowing the marriages to go forward while the case was still being heard was "an affront ... to the interests of the state and its citizens in being able to define marriage through ordinary democratic channels."

Acting swiftly, the Supreme Court issued an order that means gay couples cannot marry until the 10th Circuit rules. The appeals court has agreed to hear the case on an expedited schedule.

Same-sex marriage advocates said they were disappointed by the order but confident they will prevail in the end.

Reuters contributed to this report.