(AP) - A New Jersey judge is among the first in the nation confronted with sorting out the implications of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a federal ban on recognizing gay marriage.

Six same-sex couples and their children sued the state two years ago, arguing that its civil union law didn't give them the same legal protection as married couples.

Now, after the federal court's finding that portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act were unconstitutional, the plaintiffs want a quick ruling on the case. A hearing before a Superior Court judge is scheduled for Thursday in Trenton.

National groups on both sides of the issue say they're watching closely. They say the New Jersey decision could provide a clue into how judges in other states might rule.