*A federal appeals court ruled Monday that California’s ban on gay marriage will remain in place indefinitely as judges consider whether it is constitutional.

The decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturns the order of judge Vaughn Walker last week that would have permitted same-sex couples to marry as soon as this week.

The three-judge panel that issued the decision said the 9th Circuit will expedite the challenge to California’s voter-aproved ban on gay marriage, though the case will not be heard in court until December.

Earlier in the month, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the ban, known as Proposition 8, amounts to unconstitutional discrimination. Just last week, Walker ordered it to be lifted on Wednesday, Aug. 18.

Opponents of same-sex unions responded harshly to Walker’s decision, saying it reflected his judicial activism.

“When a lower judge makes an unprecedented ruling that totally overturns existing Supreme Court precedent, the normal thing for that judge to do is to stay his decision, and let the higher courts decide, in an orderly fashion that respects the rule of law, if he’s right or if he’s way off-base,” said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage.

The appeals court decision is a further setback for gay rights advocates, many of whom were planning wedding ceremonies for 5 o’clock on Wednesday, when same-sex marriages would have resumed for the first time since November 2008, when voters approved Proposition 8.