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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Zogby Poll: Six months into civil unions, New Jerseyans say change the law to real marriage equality

The New Jersey civil unions law is now failing at a rate of 1 in every 6.2 cases. 1514 couples have gotten civil unioned. Garden State Equality has received 242 complaints of employers not recognizing civil unions. Where does New Jersey stand on changing the law?

Zogby Poll: Six months into civil unions,

New Jerseyans say change the law

to real marriage equality

To see the complete poll results, visit

By 63% to 31%, New Jersey voters say they’d be fine with the state legislature upgrading civil unions to marriage equality.

By 72% to 21%, New Jersey voters say state legislators would be in no electoral danger if they enacted marriage equality.

By 61% to 29%, New Jersey voters say they expect the state to enact marriage equality within just a couple of years.

Zogby asked the baseline question – do you favor marriage equality versus civil unions – in two ways. Results are 48% to 45% for marriage equality in one question, 48% to 30% in another.

And a significant 35% of respondents said they would be less likely to do business with a company that denies equal benefits to gay employees. 20% said “much less likely.”

As New Jersey marks the six-month anniversary of the civil unions law this Sunday, August 19, a new statewide Zogby Poll shows majorities of voters favoring changing the law to full marriage equality for same-sex couples. The poll of 803 New Jersey voters was taken from August 8th through 10, 2007, with a margin of error of +/- 3.5%. Though Garden State Equality commissioned the poll, Zogby collected the data independently.

The poll asked:

“If public officials in New Jersey come to the conclusion that civil unions for gay couples have not worked to provide equality under the law, and that the way to fix the law is to give gay couples the same right to marry as heterosexual couples, would you be fine with that or would you be upset by that?” 63% responded “fine with that,” while only 31% responded “upset by that.”

The poll also provides key political information to legislators for when they consider changing civil unions to marriage equality. The poll asked:

“Which of the following do you think is most likely to happen to legislators if they were to allow gay couples to marry? Those legislators would not be reelected, or nothing because people care about other issues more.” 72% said nothing would happen to legislators, while only 21% said legislators would not be reelected.

In response to the question, “Regardless of where you stand on the issue of allowing gay couples to marry, do you agree or disagree that gay couples will be allowed to get married in New Jersey in a couple of years anyway?”, 61% agreed, while only 29% disagreed.

The poll also asked the baseline question testing support for marriage equality versus civil unions in two different ways. When voters were asked: “ New Jersey allows gay couples to enter into civil unions but not marry. Do you agree or disagree that New Jersey should give gay couples the same freedom to marry as heterosexual couples?” 48% supported marriage equality, while 45% opposed it.

But when voters were asked: “Which of the following comes closest to your own point of view: (A) If gay couples want to marry, let them. It will ensure equality and will not affect marriages of heterosexual couples anyway. (B) Allow gay couples to enter into civil unions, but not marriage. Allowing gay couples to marry will hurt the institution of marriage. (C) Do not allow gay couples to marry or enter into civil unions,” 48% of voters supported marriage equality, 30% supported civil unions but no more, and 20% supported neither marriage nor civil unions for same-sex couples.

The difference between the two questions may have been the concept of marriage for gay couples hurting the institution of marriage, the primary argument of marriage-equality opponents that New Jersey voters clearly reject.

“Regardless of whether any public official supports marriage equality or wants to maintain the state’s failed civil unions law,” said Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality, “no official in New Jersey can credibly say that marriage for gay couples is a divisive issue in the state. Even voters who oppose marriage equality are ready to accept an upgrade of the state’s civil unions law to real marriage equality.”

The poll also asked questions unrelated to civil unions or marriage equality. The poll asked: “I am going to read to you a list of public figures. Regardless of whether or not you agree with them on the issues or how well they have performed their job while in office, please tell me for each if you personally like them. For example, would he or she be the kind of person you think you would like to have a cup of coffee with?”

Here’s how voters responded:

Like - Dislike - Not Sure

Governor Jon Corzine 64 - 27 - 9%

Senate President Dick Codey 65 - 20 - 15%

Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts 17 - 20 - 63%

U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg 56 - 30 - 14%

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez 45 - 35 - 20%

President George W. Bush 40 - 58 - 2%

Former President Bill Clinton 67 - 28 - 5%

Former Vice President Al Gore 64 - 33 - 3%

U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton 56 - 40 - 3%

NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg 71 - 18 - 11%

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani 64 - 31 - 5%

Prosecutor Chris Christie 26 - 13 - 61%

State Senator Tom Kean, Jr. 45 - 30 - 25%

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