Cindy Meneghin, left, kisses her partner Maureen Kilian, both from Butler, N.J., during a news conference at Garden State Equality in Montclair, N.J., hours after a Superior Court Judge ruled that New Jersey is unconstitutionally denying federal benefits to gay couples and must allow them to marry, Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. Judge Mary Jacobson ruled it legal for gay couples to marry in the state beginning Oct. 21, 2013. The ruling comes after a group of gay marriage supporters sued the state in July, days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key parts of a law that blocked the federal government from granting benefits to gay couples. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey judge has reaffirmed her call for the state to start issuing same-sex marriage licenses on Oct. 21, but the administration of Gov. Chris Christie is taking another crack at putting the mandate on hold.
Both developments came Thursday and are the latest in a flurry of legal activity over whether the state should allow gay couples to marry.
Last month, Judge Mary Jacobson ruled that the state must recognize same-sex nuptials starting Oct. 21, saying the state is blocking some of its residents from federal legal protection for their relationships.
The administration of Christie, a Republican and possible 2016 presidential candidate, is asking the state Supreme Court to overturn Jacobson's decision.
In the meantime, the state also asked Jacobson to delay the mandate until the main case is sorted out by higher courts.
On Thursday, Jacobson refused.
A delay "would simply allow the state to continue to violate the equal protection rights of New Jersey same-sex couples, which can hardly be considered a public interest," she said in her opinion.
Gay rights supporters lauded the ruling, which moves New Jersey a step closer to having same-sex marriages occur this month.
The state immediately appealed the ruling.
It has until noon Friday to lay out its position. Garden State Equality, which along with a half-dozen same-sex couples sued for the state to legalize gay marriage, has until Tuesday to file a response.
The state had told Jacobson that New Jersey would be harmed by moving ahead with gay marriage now — in part because having same-sex couples legally wed would make it harder for a court not to allow gay marriage.
Christie supports civil unions, which the state has had since 2007, but says marriage laws should be changed only by a popular vote.
"I don't think that should be decided by 121 politicians in Trenton or seven judges on the Supreme Court," he said at a debate this week. "It should be decided by the 8.8 million people of New Jersey."
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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