According to a poll released last week, public support for same-sex marriage in New Jersey is continuing to grow.
The Quinnipiac University poll released April 23 found that 49 percent of New Jersey voters were in favor of same-sex marriage, while 43 percent were opposed.
The last Quinnipiac poll on the issue in the Garden State, conducted in December 2006 while the state legislature was considering the civil-union law that it later approved, found that 50 percent of voters opposed same-sex marriage, while 44 percent voiced their support.
“Two years after New Jersey’s civil-union law went into effect, sentiment for allowing same-sex marriage in the state has shifted from six points against to six points in favor,” said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
When the 2,222 registered voters who participated in the survey, which was conducted between April 14-20, were given several options for legal recognition for same-sex couples, 43 percent favored marriage, while 30 percent supported civil unions and 20 percent believed such couples should have no recognition.
Respondents did approve of the state’s current civil-union law, 63-30 percent, and the legislation received a majority of the support among every demographic group identified in the study, including Republicans and those who attend weekly religious services — two groups who, on average, opposed same-sex marriage.
Steven Goldstein, chair of New Jersey marriage-equality organization Garden State Equality, said the results of the poll were not surprising.
“For the last three years, poll after poll in New Jersey, which were completely independent, show that more people in New Jersey support marriage equality than oppose it,” Goldstein said. “This shows a trend and provides even more evidence that New Jersey is poised to accept marriage equality at the soonest juncture. We’re working hard to see this happen in 2009.”
Marriage equality saw its highest level of support among Democrats — 64 percent favored same-sex marriage — and the most opposition from Republicans — 64 percent against marriage equality. Independent voters supported same-sex marriage 50-41 percent.
Of those who attend weekly religious services, 65 percent opposed marriage equality, while 61 percent of those who attend services less frequently or not at all supported it.
Voters were also split along gender and racial lines, with 48 percent of men opposing marriage equality and 53 percent of women supporting it, and 54 percent of black voters opposing it and 50 percent of white voters supporting it.
The poll also showed that New Jersey voters do not put much stock in the notion that the legalization of same-sex marriage would be a detriment to the institution of heterosexual marriage.
About 66 percent of respondents agreed that same-sex marriage does not pose a threat to “traditional marriage,” while 30 percent held the opposite belief and 5 percent were unsure; even those who attend weekly religious services rejected this idea, 52-43 percent.
The poll had a margin of error of /- 2.1 percentage points.