Majority of New Jerseyans Favor Same-Sex Marriage


A Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released this week has found that a majority of New Jersey voters support legalizing same-sex marriage, with 52% in favor, 32% against and 16% undecided. However, given the choice between civil unions and same-sex marriage, 58% said they support civil unions.

There has been a significant drop in the margin opposing same-sex marriage over the past two years however, say pollsters:

“We were surprised by the margin favoring gay marriage, which is much greater than previously reported,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers. “While the number of supporters has grown only a little, the number directly opposing gay marriage has fallen significantly. At the same time, more people say they are unsure or refuse to answer the question. These may be voters who are uncomfortable with gay marriage but who don’t want to express direct opposition, suggesting support is not as lopsided as it appears.”

The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll surveyed 615 registered voters by both landline and cell phone  from Aug. 9 – 15.  There is a margin of error for the full sample of +/- 3.9 percentage points.

As is commonly found, women are more likely to support same-sex marriage when compared to men at 58% to 47%, with strong support among Millennial generation voters at 77%. As is the established pattern seen nationally, support tapers off to 35% among the over 65s.

Again, there is a familiar split when it comes to political affiliation with 61% of Democratic party supporters in favor, while 58% of identified independent voters saying they support same-sex marriage. However, 51% of Republicans reported opposing same-sex marriage. When asked to identity as “liberals,” “moderates,” and “conservatives,” there was again a familiar trend with 83%, 56% and 18%  respectively saying the favor same-sex marriage. However, only 62% of self-identifying conservatives said they are opposed which leaves a big chunk in the “don’t know” category. This is something that caught the eye of researchers:

“We see an interesting pattern, with Republicans and Conservatives much more likely to say ‘don’t know’ to the gay marriage question,” noted Redlawsk. “This suggests either some measure of uncertainty and changing attitudes by these voters, or perhaps reluctance to express a negative view in a state known for support of gay rights.”

Religion also played a factor in support with Catholics favoring same-sex marriage slightly more than Protestants, but how frequently respondents attend religious services being a  stronger indicator than particular religious affiliation, with those who attend services more frequently less likely to support same-sex marriage.

Support was also shown to increase in proportion to levels of education. A 46% margin of those with a high school level of education or less said they supported same-sex marriage, while 62% of respondents who attended graduate school said they supported marriage equality.

Interestingly, 73% of respondents said that New York’s recent legalization of same-sex marriage had no effect whatsoever on their views.

NEXT PAGE: Civil Unions Get Greater Support

When asked about civil unions, support was much stronger with a majority in every age group saying they backed civil unions as an alternative to same-sex marriage, the breakdown being: 57% of 18 to 29 year-olds, 56% of 30 to 49 year-olds, 61% of 50 to 64 year-olds and 52% of those 65 and over.

This increase was again repeated across political affiliation with support at 58% among Democrats, 57% among independents, and 55% among Republicans.

“These results suggest that support for gay marriage itself is not as deep or broad as might be assumed by looking at New Jersey polls,” said Redlawsk. “What New Jersey voters do support is legal recognition of same-sex relationships. For many, if not most, civil unions fit the bill just fine as an alternative to gay marriage.”

A quarter of gay marriage supporters said they opposed civil unions as an alternative to marriage, with Democrats, liberals and younger voters much more likely to favor same-sex marriage over civil unions.

“Opposition to civil unions comes from both ends of the spectrum,” said Redlawsk. “For some, any form of legal recognition of same-sex partners is unacceptable. For others, marriage is the only alternative they support. But most New Jerseyans fall in the middle.”

Only 2% of voters said they thought same-sex marriage was the most important issue the state faces, while 13% said that it is one of a few important issues. A 36% group said that legalizing gay marriage is “somewhat important” to them while 46% said that it is not important at all. This general level of apathy on the issue spreads across political affiliation but with the established pattern of more Democrats saying it is an important issue (23%) and fewer Republicans (9%).

Noteworthy, though, is the fact that 32% of New Jersey voters say the have gay or lesbian family members and 66% say they have gay and lesbian friends. Among those with gay or lesbian family members there is a 16% increase in support above that of the general population, yet only 18% of those with gay or lesbian friends or family members said that legalization of gay marriage is the most important issue or one of a few very important issues facing the state.

“Most voters are comfortable with the status-quo – legal civil unions – even if they say they support gay marriage,” said Redlawsk. “There seems to be little likelihood of changing the situation in New Jersey.”

The New Jersey Legislature passed a bill providing for civil unions and recognizing other states’ civil unions in 2006 following a court ruling that the state’s domestic partnership law failed to offer adequate benefits. That same charge has been made by equality proponents against the civil unions law, an opinion that has been backed by the New Jersey State Bar Association and the Civil Union Review Commission created by the Civil Union Act.

Still, Governor Chris Christie has said that he will not sign a same-sex marriage bill, and the Legislature seems at this stage to lack the will to move legislation on its own knowing that it is unlikely to muster enough support to override a governor veto.

As such, Lambda Legal together with Garden State Equality announced recently that they, acting on behalf of seven same-sex couples, will sue the state of New Jersey in an attempt to secure full marriage rights. You can read more on that here.

SourceRutgers University News Press Release

Related Reading:

Christie: ‘I am not a fan of same-sex marriage’ (VIDEO)

Closure of NJ Institution for Disabled Stokes Mixed Feelings

Citing NY Progress, New Jersey Lawmaker Proposes Gay Marriage Bill

Photo used under the MorgueFile user license, with thanks to mensatic.


Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons5 years ago

The bible is full of archaic meaningless laws and restrictions. It is full of barbarity and conflict and you can make anything of it that you want. Many of the books that should have been in the bible were burned as heretical.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons5 years ago

Whats the big dealio let them get married if they want.

Winn Adams
Winn Adams5 years ago

EVERY state should have same sex marriages. It's the right thing to do. Discrimination is NOT an American or Family Value.

Glen P.
Glen P.5 years ago

(cont).... It is only a short matter of time now before marriage equality for gay couples is the law of the land across America. Those who are fighting to oppose it are not only wasting their time, but they are creating a disgraceful legacy for themselves.

Glen P.
Glen P.5 years ago

Like the rest of the nation New Jersey is rapidly coming to the conclusion that gay people are entitled to equal rights, being their friends, family, coworkers, associates, role-models, and heroes, who are identical to every other person in every conceivable way in humanity's endless diversity, but they happen to be physically and emotionally attracted to those of the same gender (which science has demonstrated, as gay people long proclaimed, that sexual orientation is not a choice, and that homosexuality is perfectly normal and natural in the percentages it occurs as evidenced by thousands of animal species).

As citizens of the United States protected by Constitutional guarantees, gay people are entitled to equal treatment of the law, laws which must have a rational secular basis that advances a legitimate state interest. As States have marriage laws on the books, then without a rational justification, they cannot exclude gay citizens from marrying the consenting adult of their choosing, regardless of that person's gender. Not a single secular rationale has been put forth for why marriage should only be recognized between a man and woman that withstands scrutiny, or is shown to be a barrier to marriage for any straight couples (e.g. straight couples can marry regardless of their intent or capacity to procreate).

It is only a short matter of time now before marriage equality for gay couples is the law of the land across America. Those who are fighting to oppose

Steve Howe
Steve Howe5 years ago

don't know the difference between a hypothesis and a theory or that they are willing to be intellectually dishonest and to mislead those without much education.
How many that believe the Old Tesatament is literally true (even though self contradictory) and that everybody should follow the rules actually do follow them? How many men have their hair cut, against biblical injunction? How many men shave their beards off - again against biblical injunction? How many obey injuctions about clothing, associating with women, eating shellfish, pork etc? How many withdraw from society into the wilderness if they become ill?
Blind faith is also what causes so many people to believe that their god wants them to kill other people because they don't worship the same god.
You might have guessed by now that I'm not a great fan of faith!

Steve Howe
Steve Howe5 years ago

@ Ron G. History does not rely on faith; it relies on evidence. There is a lot of evidence about Alexander the Great. When new evidence appears that challenges an existing view yet more evidence is sought to clarify things.
Faith, on the other hand is not (usually) challenged by evidence. For instance anyone looking at the natural world will realise it is immensely old. Chalk cliffs hundreds of feet high that can only have been laid down at a maximum of about 1cm per 100 years which is 1m per 10,000 years. Near where I used to live are chalk beds about 400m thick yet still some people's reading of the Bible makes them insist that the Earth is only a few thousand years old. To make this claim they then have to invoke some exceptional mechanism that would allow much faster formation of chalk because after all faith cannot be challenged. OK, allow almost instant formation of chalk during/after the flood, and estimate how many organisms had to have been alive for their shells to have formed the chalk and we find the entire surface of the Earth would have been covered by 45cm of foraminifera and coccolithophores. And of course the chalk is on top of much older rock. Does this bother Young Earthers? No, because when faith conflicts with overwhelming evidence the evidence is ignored.
The evidence for evolution is overwhelming; does this bother creationists? No, they just ignore it and say evolution is "only a theory" which shows that they either don't know the difference between

William Y.
William Y.5 years ago

That should read "has questionable evidence."

William Y.
William Y.5 years ago

@ Ron G. no I have faith in nothing. I accept things, that have evidence, reject that which does not, and am skeptical of that which had questionable evidence.

William Y.
William Y.5 years ago

@ Ron G. Faith is nothing but belief without evidence. I accept nothing without some evidence, not hearsay, not speculation but real physical evidence. All the Dead Sea scrolls prove, is that these stories were written down somewhere between ~950 BCE & some later period, but it in no way gives any credence to what is in them. One point if the Israelites wandered 40 years in the Sinai desert, where is the evidence, with that many people wandering until the whole generation was consumed save Joshua & Caleb. Where are the remains?