TRENTON - A Trenton Superior Court judge heard arguments from lawyers representing couples, as well as the state, on whether New Jersey must allow gay marriages.

Gay couples say the state is preventing them from getting benefits made available after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down parts of a federal law making same-sex marriage illegal.

A lawyer for the state argued couples united in civil unions can receive some federal benefits, even if New Jersey doesn't allow gay marriage.

Keith Heimann and his partner are among the six gay couples suing the state of New Jersey. They were married in California, but the state of New Jersey doesn't recognize that marriage.

"It would mean everything if we had the word marriage. It means nothing without the word," plaintiff Diane Marina says. "And some people want to keep us as second-class citizens."

Opponents of same-sex marriage want the court to continue the ban. "State laws must reflect some moral law," says John Tomicki, of NJ Preserve and Protect Marriage. "History shows marriage is a union of one man and one woman."

The judge says she will rule no earlier than September.