A New Jersey judge has ruled that the state must allow same-sex couples to marry.
Judge Mary Jacobson says in her decision that the federal government recognizes gay marriages, and not doing so in New Jersey would violate the state constitution.
Her order says the marriages could begin Oct. 21, which gives the state time to appeal and ask for a stay to block marriages from happening.
Gov. Chris Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak says Christie will appeal the decision. In a statement, he said Christie "will let the [state] Supreme Court make this constitutional determination" after lawmakers rejected his previous plan to have voters decide whether to allow same-sex marriage. Christie vetoed same-sex marriage legislation passed by the New Jersey legislature in 2012.
However, Christie's opponent in the governor's race, state Sen. State Barbara Buono, urged Christie not to appeal. "The position of New Jersey people is clear. They want gay marriage," she told WNYC. "Now the courts are clear. It's time for this governor to end his opposition against legalizing same-sex marriage and really give it a rest. Don't appeal it."
In Friday's ruling, the judge accepted the position of lawyers from gay rights groups that the state is now blocking citizens from receiving federal benefits.
New Jersey's top court ruled in 2006 that gay couples had to have the same legal rights as married couples. Same-sex couples in New Jersey presently can enter into civil unions.
For more on the gay marriage decision, click the audio.