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Same-sex marriage in New Jersey

2003 - 2009: Same-sex marriage (SSM) coming?
Public opinion polls. Opinions. Predictions

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Earlier information about the case

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 support:

Date % favor SSM % opposed to SSM Undecided Polling agency
2003-JUL 55% 41% 4% Zogby
2003-SEP 3 43 50 7 Rutgers-Eagleton
2005-APR-12 to 14 55 40 5 Zogby
2006-FEB-08 to 10 56 39 5 Zogby
2006-JUN 50 44 6 Rutgers-Eagleton
2009-APR 49 43 8 Quinnipiac University 7

There appears to be a consistent difference between the results of the Zogby and Rutgers-Eagleton polling companies. 1,2 This is probably due to the specific wording of the questions asked.

The Zogby results, for 2006-FEB, showed:

bullet68% of Jews favor marriage equality, as do
bullet67% of Democrats
bullet62% of Independents
bullet60% of Catholics.

The 60% support among Roman Catholics is particularly notable because the church hierarchy is one of the main opponents of SSM.

Also:

bullet67% of New Jersey voters oppose a constitutional amendment to ban SSM;
bullet28% 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 adults believe that same-sex marriage is inevitable, while only 28 percent do not. 3

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, asked:

"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 soon?"

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.

Goldstein said:

"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 to describe 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 Quinnipiac University Polling Institute:

Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Institute said in a statement:

"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." 8

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.

Polling results were:

bullet66% rejected the idea that SSM poses a threat to opposite-sex marriage.
bullet30% regard SSM as a threat.
bullet4% 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.

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Garden State Equality-Zogby Poll of New Jersey," 2005-APR, at: http://www.gardenstateequality.org/
  2. "News from Garden State Equality," 2006-JUN-23, at: http://eqfed.org/
  3. Robert Rakelly, "N.J. governor signs civil unions law - State Supreme Courts in Massachusetts," Seattle Gay News, 2006-DEC, at: http://www.sgn.org/
  4. Ruth Padawer & William Lamb, "Gay couple marks milestone, then returns to the campaign," Record, Northern New Jersey, 2007-FEB-20, at: http://www.romingerlegal.com/
  5. Pete Winn, "Civil Unions not enough for New Jersey gays," Focus on the Family, 2007-FEB-19, at: http://www.citizenlink.org/
  6. Jennifer Mesko, "N.J. hurtles Toward Same-Sex 'Marriage'," CitizenLink, Focus on the Family Action, 2007-NOV-08, at: http://www.citizenlink.org/
  7. "Panel says New Jersey should allow gay marriage," Reuters, 2008-DEC-10, at: http://www.reuters.com/
  8. "Gay marriage support jumps in New Jersey," On Top Magazine, 2009-APR-23, at: http://ontopmag.com/

Site navigation: Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Menu > New Jersey > here

Copyright © 2006 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Parts originally written: 2009-DEC-09
Author: B.A. Robinson

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