By Bill Cotterell
TALLAHASSEE (Reuters) - Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi asked the U.S. Supreme Court late on Monday to block same-sex marriage in the state next month while the state continues its legal defense of its constitutional definition of marriage as a heterosexual union.
A ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in north Florida in August threw out the state ban, but stayed the effect of his order.
A ruling by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeal in Atlanta on Dec. 3 opened the possibility of statewide marriages to start Jan. 6.
In a statement, Bondi's office said she asked the Supreme Court to intervene to keep the stay so as to "maintain uniformity and order throughout Florida until final resolution of the numerous challenges to the voter-approved constitutional amendment on marriage."
Kansas and South Carolina recently lost petitions in the nation's highest court, defending their state bans on same-sex unions.
Attorney Daniel Tilley, representing the American Civil Liberties Union, said it was "unsurprising" that Bondi and Governor Rick Scott would keep fighting the issue.
"Since October, the Supreme Court has refused all requests to stay rulings striking down the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage in other states," Tilley said in a statement.
"We are hopeful they will do the same here, so that loving couples and their children can get the protections for which they have waited so long."
(Editing by David Adams and Clarence Fernandez)