Gay marriages could begin by next week in Va.

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Same-sex couples could start getting married next week in the commonwealth.

A panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit denied a request to delay the implementation of a ruling striking down Virginia's gay marriage ban on Wednesday. Unless the Supreme Court steps-in, same-sex couples could begin applying for marriage licenses and having their out-of-state marriages recognized on Aug. 20.

The move could open the door for same-sex couples in North Carolina in a matter of months, according to some supporters of the ruling.

"These dominos are going to continue to fall," said Mark Maxwell, with the Campaign for Southern Equality. Maxwell, who married his husband in Washington, D.C. in January of last year, says it's all about treating all families equal.

"There are over 1,100 benefits that come with being a married couple and that's really what this is all about," he said. "It's about federal protection, state protection that should be in place."

Attorney General Roy Cooper said last month he will no longer defend North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage because of the court’s recent ruling.

"Really the debate ought to be with the people, with the legislature," said Chris Fruend, with The Family Foundation in Virginia. "Let's have a civil dialog about the role of marriage and culture, the role of marriage and policy and not just have a few justices, judges decide for us."

"It's tragic that a few can redefine marriage laws of our nation," said Pastor Ron Baity, with Return America. His group is considering a rally to bring thousands of people together that believe in biblical marriage. "So they can stand up and be counted."