A New Jersey judge says a lawsuit seeking to force the state to recognize gay marriage can go forward.  Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg says that a gay rights group and several couples have the right to argue the state’s civil union law does not give them equal protection under the law.

But the judge said at a hearing Friday in Trenton there is no fundamental right to marriage for gay couples under New Jersey law. The hearing was the first in a lawsuit filed in June by seven couples and many of their children. They say the state’s civil unions fall short of creating equality for same-sex couples as ordered by the state Supreme Court five years ago.

The state government had asked that the suit be dismissed.