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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

ZOGBY POLL: NEW JERSEY WANTS TO DUMP CIVIL UNIONS

By 59 to 36 percent, New Jerseyans say okay to public officials'
changing the civil union law to marriage equality

An astounding 69 percent of New Jerseyans say marriage equality
is inevitable in the state

Though Governor Corzine’s favorables are up and he’d beat Chris Christie,
New Jersey wants Corzine to take Obama Administration job if offered

Surprisingly, voters don’t care if Corzine picks a woman or minority
as running mate for Lieutenant Governor

You can see the complete poll at http://www.gardenstateequality.org/

**********************************************************

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 -- A majority of New Jersey favors marriage for same-sex couples over civil unions – and an even bigger majority is fine with public officials’ changing the civil union law to marriage equality, according to a new statewide Zogby Poll commissioned by Garden State Equality.

By 59 to 36 percent, New Jerseyans say they would be "fine with" public officials’ changing the civil union law to marriage equality. Indeed, when the poll goes out of its way to remind voters that New Jersey already has a civil union law, a majority of New Jersey still supports marriage for same-sex couples – 50.1 to 42.3 percent. And an astounding 69 percent of New Jerseyans say marriage equality is inevitable in the state.

Coming on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, the poll also asks a number of political questions. By 47 to 33 percent, New Jerseyans want Governor Corzine to say yes if a prospective President Barack Obama offers Corzine a job in the new Administration. But the poll puts Corzine’s approval ratings at 55 to 42 percent favorable-unfavorable, and he would beat Chris Christie 45 to 36 percent in a 2009 gubernatorial matchup. The numbers indicate that New Jerseyans may be giving Corzine permission to go to Washington not because they disapprove his job performance in Trenton.

Assuming Corzine runs for reelection in 2009, New Jerseyans by an overwhelming margin – 64 to 31 percent – don’t care if he picks a woman or minority as his running mate for Lieutenant Governor.

Zogby took the poll of 803 likely New Jersey voters from August 7 through August 11, 2008. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percent. Though Garden State Equality commissioned the poll, Zogby collected the data independently.

According to the poll, U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg’s favorable to unfavorable rating is 52 to 35 percent. He would defeat former Congressman Dick Zimmer 50 to 32 percent if the 2008 U.S. Senate election were held today. U.S. Senator Bob Menendez’s favorable to unfavorable rating is 43 to 33 percent.

Senate President and former Governor Dick Codey continues to be the state’s most popular official, with a favorable to unfavorable rating of 66 to 17 percent.

In response to the question: Currently, New Jersey lets same-sex couples enter only into civil unions, while California and Massachusetts give same-sex couples the freedom to marry. Do you support or oppose same-sex couples in New Jersey also getting the freedom to marry? 50.1 percent said, support. 42.3 percent said, oppose.

In response to the question: If public officials conclude that the civil union law has not worked to provide same-sex couples the legal protections that marriage would, and that New Jersey should fix the problem by giving same-sex couples the freedom to marry, would you be fine with that or upset by that? 59 percent said, fine with that. 36 percent said, upset by that.

“No one should doubt the meaning of these numbers,” said Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality. “New Jersey wants to end discrimination in marriage, and is ready for our public officials to do it right now. The civil union law is one the greatest civil rights failures of our time. New Jersey sees that, and understands that justice delayed is justice denied.”

New Jersey also wants Governor Corzine to follow the lead of New York Governor David Paterson, who has recognized legal out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples in his own state. In response to the question: Same-sex couples can already be legally married in places outside New Jersey, including California and Massachusetts. Do you think New Jersey should recognize those marriages as marriages in New Jersey? 57 percent said yes and 37 percent said no.

69 percent believe New Jersey will allow same-sex couples to marry, while only 21 percent believe New Jersey would not. 71 percent said, nothing will happen to legislators if they vote for marriage equality “because New Jersey voters care more about other issues.” Only 21 percent said supportive legislators would not be reelected.

In one of the poll’s most interesting questions – probably the first time the question has appeared in any poll – a clear majority of New Jerseyans believe insurance companies unfairly discriminate against transgender people by not covering the medical treatments that doctors deem vital to gender transition. 53 percent said this denial by insurance companies is unfair, while only 36 percent said it is fair.

In fact, even though New Jersey is a worldwide leader in banning discrimination against transgender people – the state’s Law Against Discrimination, hate crimes and anti-school bullying laws all encompass gender identity or expression – a number of insurance companies still refuse to cover vital medical treatment. The American Medical Association has said such denials are discriminatory.

“It is outrageous that some insurance companies deny vital health coverage to transgender citizens even though our state outlaws it,” said Barbra Casbar Siperstein, vice-chair of Garden State Equality and political director of the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey. “Our state must act to ensure that all insurance companies follow the law.”
Finally, few New Jerseyans care whether Governor Corzine picks a woman or minority as his running mate in 2009, when New Jersey will be electing a Lieutenant Governor for the first time.

64 percent said it is unimportant to them whether Corzine picks a woman or minority as his running mate, with 45 percent saying it is “very unimportant.” Even a majority of Democrats said it is unimportant, though by a narrow 50 to 45 percent.

Women in the general electorate said it is unimportant, 58 to 37 percent. Latino voters said it is unimportant, 69 to 31 percent. Only African-American voters said it is important to them that Corzine pick a woman or minority as his running mate, 66 to 28 percent.

To see rest of the August 2008 Zogby-Garden State Equality Poll and the demographic breakdowns for all questions, please visit http://www.gardenstateequality.org/.

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