N.J. voters back gay marriage, poll says

The majority of New Jersey voters say that they would not be upset if the state legalized gay marriage, according to a Zogby Poll commissioned by Garden State Equality, a gay advocacy group.

63% of those polled said that they would have no problem 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 granted gay couples the right to marry.

“Here’s the bottom line, the people of New Jersey are ready right now to change the failing civil unions law to real marriage equality,” said Steven Goldstein, President of Garden State Equality.

A much smaller majority, 48.1%, agreed with the statement that “New Jersey should give gay couples the same freedom to marry as heterosexual couples.” 44.6% disagreed.

But when the same question was phrased differently, a small majority of respondents were against gay marriage by a margin of 49.1% to 47.5%. Of that majority, 29.6 % said they were in favor of civil unions but not marriage, while another 19.5 % said they were opposed to both. But Goldstein said those numbers aren’t troubling.

“Wherever you might stand for marriage equality, for or against, you’re overwhelmingly likely to be ready for the legislature to change the law for marriage equality,” said Goldstein.

Regardless of personal opinion, however, the vast majority of those polled expected gay marriage to become legal in New Jersey with the next couple years, 61.2% to 28.3%, and only 20.8% thought that legislators would be in any danger of losing an election of they voted to allow same sex marriage.

Conservative strategist Rick Shaftan thought that the poll was intended to dissuade Republicans from using gay marriage as a campaign issue. In some districts, Shaftan said, Democratic legislators would not want to be confronted about their stances on the issue.

“You’re not going to see Democrats campaigning on it. It’s not going to show up in their literature,” said Shaftan. “This poll is designed to do one thing: intimidate the Republicans into not campaigning on this issue. And it will probably work, because there is no more spineless group than the Republican leadership in New Jersey.”

N.J. voters back gay marriage, poll says