Rutgers-Eagleton poll shows support for gay marriage, even more for civil unions

NEW BRUNSWICK – While a majority of N.J. voters support legalizing gay marriage, even more support the alternative of civil unions.

That is the finding of a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released today.

Fifty-two percent favor gay marriage, 32 percent are opposed, and 16 percent are unsure, according to the poll. However, 58 percent are in favor of civil unions when that is included in the question.

“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 strong preference for civil unions as an alternative to gay marriage also suggests support for same-sex

marriage is not as deep as it appears, he said. More than two-thirds of gay marriage supporters say they support civil unions as an alternative, as do 54 percent of gay marriage opponents and 41 percent of those not sure where they stand on gay marriage.

Results are from a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll of 615 registered voters conducted among both landline and cell

phone households from Aug. 9 – 15, with a margin of error for the full sample of +/- 3.9 percentage points.

Other elements of the poll show that women are more likely than men to support gay marriage, 58 percent to 47 percent. The younger the voter, the more likely a person is to back gay marriage. Seventy-seven  percent of voters under 30 are in favor, while support declines to only 35 percent of voters over 65.

Rutgers-Eagleton poll shows support for gay marriage, even more for civil unions