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.

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 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report