Same-sex marriage in New Jersey
2003 - 2009: Same-sex marriage (SSM) coming?
Public opinion polls. Opinions. Predictions
2003 to 2009: Garden State Equality Polls:
Zogby International and Rutgers-Eagleton have conducted a series of public opinion polls on
questions relating to same-sex marriage (SSM) among adults in New Jersey.
Results show a gradual lessening of opposition to SSM, and a strengthening of
||% favor SSM
||% opposed to SSM
|2005-APR-12 to 14
|2006-FEB-08 to 10
There appears to be a consistent difference between the results of the Zogby
polling companies. 1,2 This
is probably due to the specific wording of the questions asked.
The Zogby results, for 2006-FEB, showed:
|68% of Jews favor marriage equality, as do|
|67% of Democrats|
|62% of Independents|
|60% of Catholics.|
The 60% support among Roman Catholics is particularly notable because the
church hierarchy is one of the main opponents of SSM.
|67% of New Jersey voters oppose a constitutional amendment to ban SSM;|
|28% are in favor of a ban.|
Steven Goldstein, chairperson of Garden State Equality said:
"If marriage equality prevails at the state Supreme Court and national
anti-gay activists think of coming here, they will meet their Waterloo. New
Jersey marches to a different drummer and the beat of equality. New Jersey
is the state that doesn't hate."
A Zogby poll in 2006-DEC showed that 65% of New Jersey
believe that same-sex marriage is inevitable, while only 28 percent do not.
2007-FEB-19: The next step: call same-sex unions marriage:
Those non-profits in New Jersey who promote equality for persons of all sexual
orientations generally regard the civil union law as a good first step. However,
their goal was, is now, and will continue to be full marriage equality. This is
available in a few other U.S. states, in Canada and in a growing number of other countries.
Shortly after midnight on the day that the civil union law came into force, Steven Goldstein,
chairperson of Garden State Equality, "civil unionized" his partner, Daniel Gross,
in the Teaneck office of State Senator Loretta Weinberg. Their civil union
ceremony contained an unusual vow. Rabbi Elliott Tepperman, the officiator,
"Do you, Daniel, vow to continue fighting for true marriage equality, so
that couples like you can legally marry in the state of New Jersey one day
Gross and Goldstein said "I do."
At 11 AM that morning, they were in Iselin, NJ, for a champagne brunch celebrating
the new civil union law. On Monday night, they were part of a rally at City Hall
in Jersey City helping to launched a campaign to make
marriage available to all couples in the state -- both opposite-sex and same-sex.
"It's a different experience than straight couples will have. They're
able to get married and then don't have to work the next day to win greater
recognition for their relationship. Last night was celebrating a step, and
today was rolling up our sleeves and getting right back to work." 4
In theory, Goldstein and Gross did not have to
obtain a civil union. They have been together for 14 years and entered a
civil union in Vermont in 2002. The state of New Jersey automatically
recognized their status. But they felt it was safer to go through the ceremony
again. Goldstein said:
"We're scared that if there's an emergency, and
someone looks up whether we are civil unionized in New Jersey, who wants to
go into an explanation that New Jersey automatically recognizes Vermont
unions? It just seems safer to have the piece of paper from New Jersey."
On another occasion, Goldstein told the
New York Daily News:
"Civil unions are not marriage. Marriage is the only currency of
commitment the world understands." 5
Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, said gay
activists are not satisfied with:
"... just getting benefits. What they want is total acceptance of their
lifestyle. The only way they can get total acceptance is if they can
redefine marriage so that it is no longer gender-specific." 5
The term "lifestyle" is frequently used in
place of "sexual orientation" by religious and social conservatives as it implies
both a choice and a behavior. Sexual orientation implies something that is discovered,
not chosen, and that is innate -- part of a person's basic nature.
2007-NOV-08: A prediction:
Jennifer Mesko of CitizenLink.com, a fundamentalist Christian advocacy group, predicted that:
"The New Jersey Legislature is headed toward the creation of same-sex
'marriage' after supporters made significant gains in this week's election.
... the Legislature is set to convene a lame-duck session in which the issue
could come up, in spite of the fact that Senate President Richard Codey and
Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts Jr., both Democrats, have said the issue
will not be brought up this year." 6
Mona Passignano, state issues analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said:
"The people of the Garden State and of this nation need to be prepared if
the Legislature attempts to pass same-sex 'marriage' before the end of the
year. If pro-marriage advocates will be willing to speak up when the time
comes, they can make a difference." 6
The term "pro-marriage advocates" is an evangelical Christian term
individuals and groups who oppose marriage equality. That is they work to
prevent the marriage of same-sex couples. They often enclose the word marriage
in quotation marks when it refers to SSM. This is to indicate that they reject
SSM as being in any way equivalent to opposite-sex marriage. Sometimes, they use
the term "counterfeit marriage" to refer to SSM.
Their fears did not materialize at the end of 2007. It took two years for
major progress on marriage equality.
2009-APR-23: New poll by the
University Polling Institute:
Richards, assistant director of the Institute said in a statement:
Of particular interest was a poll question that asked the subjects whether
they felt that SSM "... is a threat to the traditional marriage between a man and a woman."
This argument is emphasized by individuals and groups who oppose marriage
equity. It is becoming increasingly difficult to support this belief since
Massachusetts -- the state that has made SSM available for longer than any other
state -- also has the lowest divorce rate in the nation.
"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."
"Support of the same-sex civil union law has risen dramatically ... support
for allowing gay couples to adopt children is nearly 2-1."
Polling results were:
|66% rejected the idea that SSM poses a threat to opposite-sex marriage.|
|30% regard SSM as a threat.|
|4% were undecided. 8|
It seems that most married people do not feel that a same-sex married couple
in their neighborhood or beyond can have any significant impact on their own marriage.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Garden State Equality-Zogby Poll of New Jersey," 2005-APR, at:
- "News from Garden State Equality," 2006-JUN-23, at:
- Robert Rakelly, "N.J.
governor signs civil unions law - State Supreme Courts in Massachusetts,"
Seattle Gay News, 2006-DEC, at:
- Ruth Padawer & William Lamb, "Gay couple marks milestone, then returns to
the campaign," Record, Northern New Jersey, 2007-FEB-20, at:
- Pete Winn, "Civil Unions not enough for New Jersey gays," Focus on the
Family, 2007-FEB-19, at:
- Jennifer Mesko, "N.J. hurtles Toward Same-Sex 'Marriage'," CitizenLink,
Focus on the Family Action, 2007-NOV-08, at:
- "Panel says New Jersey should allow gay marriage," Reuters, 2008-DEC-10, at:
- "Gay marriage support jumps in New Jersey," On Top Magazine, 2009-APR-23, at:
Copyright © 2006 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Parts originally written: 2009-DEC-09
Author: B.A. Robinson