By Bobby Blanchard

A judge on Friday declined to lift a stay that is preventing same-sex marriage in Texas.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia of San Antonio ruled in February that Texas' same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. Anticipating an appeal from the state, Garcia also immediately issued a stay to keep his ruling from going into effect. In November, the plaintiffs in the case — two same-sex couples who want to marry — asked Garcia to lift his stay. On Friday, Garcia declined to lift the stay.

“Such action would only be temporary, with confusion and doubt to follow," Garcia wrote in the ruling on Friday. "The day for finality and legal certainty in the long and difficult journey for equality is closer than ever before."

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in same-sex marriage cases from Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana on Jan. 9. More than 30 states, and the District of Columbia, allow same-sex marriage.