The New Jersey Supreme Court Friday afternoon agreed to speed up its consideration of whether to make gay marriage legal in the states.
The state high court in Trenton said it would not wait for an appeals court to hear the case first. Under a lower court ruling handed down in September, the state has to allow same-sex unions by Oct. 21.
The Supreme Court is still weighing whether to block implementation of the lower court order while it considers the case. Arguments are set for January.
Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson on Friday rejected a request from the administration of Gov. Chris Christie to put her decision on hold while the case worked its way through the state appeals process.
Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage and advocates say they have political momentum following the Supreme Court’s decision this summer striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. New Jersey, which does allow gay civil unions, is along with Pennsylvania the only states in the Northeast that have not legalized gay marriage.
Judge Jacobson ruled last month that same-sex couples in New Jersey were being denied equal rights and must be allowed to marry, specifically citing the Supreme Court’s ruling.