U.S. District Court Judge Michael Seabright on Friday denied a request by two churches to block the start of a civil unions law, the Star Advertiser reported.

Governor Neil Abercrombie signed in February the legislation that gives gay and straight couples nearly all of the legal protections of marriage. The law is set to take effect on January 1.

(Related: Gay couples to enter civil unions at midnight on New Year's Eve in Hawaii.)

Claiming that the law violates the civil rights of clergy and churches because it does not exempt them from hosting such ceremonies, two Christian churches filed the legal challenge earlier this week. (The law does exempt clergy from solemnizing a civil union for any reason.)

The plaintiffs – Emmanuel Temple, Lighthouse Outreach Center Assembly of God and its pastors – had asked the court to grant a restraining order to block the start of the law.

In his 17-page ruling, Seabright said β€œit is clear that the present dispute is not ripe for the granting of a TRO.”