RICHMOND, Va. – Same-sex couples could begin marrying as early as next week in Virginia after a federal appeals court refused Wednesday to delay its ruling that struck down the state’s gay marriage ban.

The state would also need to start recognizing gay marriages from out of state next Wednesday, though the U.S. Supreme Court could effectively put same-sex marriages on hold again if opponents of same-sex marriage are able to win an emergency delay.

A county clerk in northern Virginia had asked the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond to stay its decision striking down the ban, issued in late July, while it is appealed to the high court.

The appeals court’s order did not explain why it denied that request.

The 4th Circuit decision “shows that there’s no longer a justification to keep same-sex couples from marrying,” said Nancy Leong, a law professor at the University of Denver.