In a filing Monday, the state says allowing gay couples to marry starting in two weeks would make it difficult for the state's top court to reverse course should it agree with the Christie administration's anti-gay marriage stand.
The state also says that it does not have to show Judge Mary Jacobson that it is likely to win on appeal to have the decision stayed - just that it raises substantial arguments.
The filing is the latest in a flurry of legal activity over gay marriage in New Jersey since Jacobson ruled on Sept. 27 that the state must start recognizing marriages of same-sex couples beginning Oct. 21.
Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who is seen as a possible 2016 presidential candidate, is appealing Jacobson's ruling to the state Supreme Court, and asking for her Oct. 21 deadline to be pushed back while that court considers the case.
Gay rights advocates said in a court filing last week that no stay should be granted because couples are hurt by a delay. They also argued that the state would not be harmed if same-sex marriage licenses are issued.
In its papers Monday, the state contends that a quick change "would injure not only the public interest but the state that represents this interest."
A decision on the stay is expected before Oct. 21.
Advocates for gay marriage are also attempting to persuade lawmakers to override Christie's 2012 veto of a law to allow same-sex unions.
Currently, New Jersey has civil unions but not gay marriage.
Thirteen other states recognize gay marriage.