A New Jersey judge has denied a request from Gov. Chris Christie's administration to delay the start of gay marriage in the state until after a legal appeal is final.

The ruling Thursday from Judge Mary Jacobson  moves the state a step closer to start recognizing same-sex nuptials on Oct. 21. That's the day Jacobson had said in a previous ruling that the marriages had to be allowed.

"Granting a stay 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," Jacobson wrote.

In her order Thursday, she ruled that the start of nuptials did not have to be delayed, finding the state was not likely to win its appeal and that it would not hurt the state if same-sex marriage licenses are issued.

Gay couples who want to wed "would suffer many hardships of constitutional magnitude if the stay were to be issued, but the state has not demonstrated how it would suffer in any meaningful way if the order is enforced," she wrote.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora praised the ruling. "I think it’s to Judge Jacobson’s credit for recognizing that equality under the law means just that and that gay couples should enjoy the same benefits as any other married couples deserve," said the Democrat, who expects the Christie administration to appeal the ruling. “I would imagine that the state would continue to waste taxpayers’ money by appealing up the chain to the appellate division and ultimately the Supreme Court.”

The Christie administration has asked an appeals court judge to consider an emergency challenge to that order. Christie wants same-sex marriages put on hold at least until all appeals can be resolved.

The administration has already asked the state Supreme Court to reverse Jacobson's earlier ruling that the state has to allow gay couples to get married.

Troy Stevenson, Executive Director of Garden State Equality, said in a statement on the Lambda Legal website, "Momentum is with us. All couples in New Jersey need the dignity of marriage, and they need it now. We look forward to seeing many of them, who have been denied that dignity for too long, marry in the coming weeks." Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit seeking to legalize gay marriage in New Jersey in 2011.

Senator Barbara Buono, who is challenging Christie in the gubernatorial election calls upon him to stop appealing."It is time for Governor Christie to put New Jersey first and stop delaying marriage equality," she said in a statement. At their debate on Tuesday she told Christie to "show a profile in courage" and support what she called a "human right" that should not be on the ballot.

The Associated Press contributed to this report