New Jersey's highest court has agreed to hear a case on whether gay marriage should be legal in the state.

New Jersey Supreme Court justices
New Jersey Supreme Court justices (NJ Judiciary)

The state Supreme Court accepted the case Friday, skipping the normal course of letting an appeals court hear it first.

A lower-court judge ruled last month that the state must legalize same-sex marriage starting Oct. 21.

The top court is also considering whether to delay implementation of the lower-court ruling until it has ruled on the overall case. Arguments are set for January.

Gov. Chris Christie's administration argues that it has a reasonable probability of winning its overall appeal and that allowing same-sex marriages to move ahead in the meantime would be damaging to the state.

The state presently grants gay couples civil unions, not marriages.

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