LITTLE ROCK — A federal judge on Wednesday declined to lift her stay of her November ruling that Arkansas’ ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

LITTLE ROCK — A federal judge on Wednesday declined to lift her stay of her November ruling that Arkansas’ ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.


U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued a four-page order denying a motion by attorneys for a group of same-sex couples who challenged the ban. The plaintiffs had argued that the stay, which Baker imposed pending an expected appeal, should be vacated immediately.


The plaintiffs had noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to keep stays in place barring same-sex marriage in a number of other states, which they argued indicated how that court would rule on the issue of gay marriage.


Attorney General Leslie Rutledge had argued that lifting the stay would cause unnecessary confusion across the state.


In her order Wednesday, Baker noted that the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Louis declined to vacate of stay of its judgment in a same-sex marriage case in Missouri.


"Further, the Supreme Court’s refusal to impose a stay on other federal district court decisions does not compel this court to vacate the stay in this case," Baker said in the order.


Jack Wagoner, attorney for the plaintiffs, said Wednesday that he was "disappointed" but not surprised by the ruling.


"This means we’re going to have to wait till June, when the U.S. Supreme Court rules in our favor on this issue," he said.


The 8th Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments in May in the state’s appeal of Baker’s November ruling, but Wagoner said the nation’s top court is likely to issue a decision before the 8th Circuit does.


Rutledge said in a statement Wednesday she was pleased with Baker’s denial of the motion to vacate the stay.


"As the state argued in its response to the plaintiffs’ motion, unnecessary confusion, uncertainty and additional litigation would have resulted had Judge Baker lifted her stay while this case is pending before the Eighth Circuit. As the appeal moves forward, I will continue to vigorously defend the constitutionality of Arkansas’s marriage laws," Rutledge said.


The state also is appealing a Pulaski County circuit judge’s May ruling that the same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional, a ruling that also has been stayed.


The Arkansas Supreme Court granted expedited consideration to the case and heard oral arguments in November but has not yet issued a decision.