A Republican congressman said Thursday the judge's ruling that overturns California's gay marriage ban will actually help his party in the midterm elections.

Rep. Pete King (N.Y.) said the decision to reverse the Golden State's Proposition 8 ballot initiative is an example of judicial activism, which he says his party opposes.

"As far as the gay marriage issue, I think it's going to subliminally help Republicans," he said on MSNBC. "I'm certainly not going to make it an issue. I think the way it helps Republicans is that ... it shows an attempt by judges or people considered the political elite to impose their social views on the American people without the opportunity to vote."

The ruling by a federal judge said the language of the ban violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution, but gay-marriage opponents have said they will appeal the decision, upping the stakes in one of the most well-known gay-rights battles in the nation.

King compared the judge's decision to a ruling made by another federal judge that enjoined crucial parts of the controversial Arizona immigration law.

The congressman, who represents portions of Long Island, stressed he will not play up the issue during campaign season, but predicted it will be part of a broader GOP narrative on social issues.

"I don't see it being a major issue, but I do think it's going to be subliminal," he said.

King said that "historically" marriage has been between a man and a woman and if that were to change, it should happen by popular vote, not a court ruling.