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INDIANAPOLIS (USA Today) -- A federal appeals court issued an emergency order Friday stopping same-sex marriages in Indiana pending the outcome of an appeal of a federal judge's ruling that found the state's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

The ruling came just hours after Attorney General Greg Zoeller asked the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to stop the same-sex marriages that have been conducted across the state since Wednesday.

Zoeller turned to the appellate court after initially filing a request for a stay Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. That court had ruled earlier that day that Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

In a statement issued before the 7th Circuit ruling, Zoeller's office said it had expected an immediate ruling on its initial request for a stay.

MORE: Judge throws out Indiana ban on same-sex marriage

"That has not yet happened, so the AG's Office today filed a separate emergency motion for stay in the higher court, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago," the statement said.

In its filing, the state's attorney says that "without a stay, any same-sex marriages granted now might have their legal validity questioned later if the United States Supreme Court eventually were to rule in favor of states in upcoming legal challenges to marriage laws."

In its opposition to the stay, the ACLU noted "the question is what interest does the public in Indiana have in maintaining what this court recognizes is profound 'injustice?' "Earlier Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a petition in U.S. District Court opposing the stay.

"The Hoosier public," the petition says, "has no such interest."

The petition claims the state has not met its burden in seeking the stay and that the state is not facing irreparable harm.

"Any harm that the state faces is outweighed by the harm that a stay would cause the plaintiffs," the petition says.

Clerks in all but seven Indiana counties began issuing marriage license to same-sex couples after Wednesday's ruling. In Marion County alone, the clerk had issued more than 500 marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Clerk Beth White announced after the stay that her office, which had been scheduled to be open Saturday to issue licenses, would not be open and no longer could issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

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