SAN FRANCISCO, March 23, 2011 ( – A three-judge panel of a federal appeals court Wednesday ruled that, despite a lower court decision overturning California’s true marriage amendment, Proposition 8, the amendment would stay in force while that decision is being appealed.

Ninth Circuit Judges Stephen Reinhardt, Michael Daly Hawkins and N. Randy Smith have upheld an injunction against homosexual couples seeking marriage licenses while the law remains in dispute.

The one-sentence order was greeted as a significant victory for Prop. 8 supporters, who have been abandoned by the California state government to defend the voter-approved amendment on their own.

“It’s a victory for Proposition 8 supporters and the initiative process as a whole. People need to have confidence that their vote will count, at least until the courts make a final decision,” said general counsel Andy Pugno, who is defending Prop. 8 in the Perry v Schwarzenegger case, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Opponents of Prop. 8 have questioned whether the defendants have standing to defend the law, a question the California Supreme Court indicated would not be taken up until at least September.

Proposition 8 became part of the California state constitution in November 2008 when voters approved it in reaction to a ruling by the California Supreme Court the previous May, granting gay couples “marriage” rights.

Judge Vaughn Walker of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California struck down the amendment in August 2010 as violating the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection and due process clauses. His decision is now being appealed by supporters of Prop. 8.