LOS ANGELES – California's attorney general called on a US federal court Tuesday to suspend a ban on gay marriages in the western US state, pending a long-running appeals process.

Kamala Harris urged the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals to dismiss its order prohibiting same-sex marriages in California until an appeal of so-called Proposition 8 is resolved.

"Prop 8" was a measure approved by Californian voters in a referendum in November 2008, banning same-sex marriage. But last August a judge ruled that Prop 8 violated the US constitution, and appeals are ongoing.

Harris said there was no justification in maintaining the gay marriage ban in the meantime.

"For 846 days, Proposition 8 has denied equality under the law to gay and lesbian couples," she said, in a statement released by her office.

"Each and every one of those days, same-sex couples have been denied their right to convene loved ones and friends to celebrate marriages sanctioned and protected by California law.

"Each one of those days, loved ones have been lost, moments have been missed, and justice has been denied," she added.

Her call came after President Barack Obama decided last week that his administration would no longer defend a law defining marriage as only between a man and a woman.

In the wake of two lawsuits challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which has been in effect for 15 years, Obama concluded the law is unconstitutional, Attorney General Eric Holder said.

California's attorney general said Tuesday that, under the circumstances, it was wrong to maintain the ban in California.

"There is no injury that the proponents of Proposition 8 will suffer if same-sex couples are permitted to enter into civil marriages in California," she said.

"As long as the stay on same-sex marriages remains in effect... the due process and equal protection rights of same-sex couples will continue to be violated."