Lawyers representing Governor Chris Christie in a legal challenge to the state's ban on gay marriage argued Thursday that gay couples should instead sue the federal government for not recognizing their civil unions.

“The New Jersey constitution cannot create a state remedy for the federal government acting under federal law,” Kevin Jespersen of the New Jersey Attorney General's Office said.

Plaintiffs in the case asked Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson to skip a trial in favor of a quick ruling, arguing that the Supreme Court's June decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) makes it clear that the state's civil unions law fails to satisfy a 2006 New Jersey Supreme Court ruling declaring that gay couples are entitled to the same rights and benefits that married heterosexual couples enjoy.

Garden State Equality attorney Lawrence Lustberg refuted the state's position, saying that “federal benefits depend on marriage.”

“After Windsor, that is true whether the couples are of the same sex or different. That is what Windsor changed,” he said.

“This is all caused by the state, it begins with the state, and it could end with the state,” Lustberg told the court, according to Equality on Trial.

Judge Jacobson expressed skepticism toward the state's arguments but also appeared to be leaning toward a full trial, rather than issuing a summary judgment. A ruling is expected in September.