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Same-sex marriage (SSM)

2003 to 2007: Results of earlier
public opinion polls
in New Jersey

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Overview:

Numerous national polls and polls within a specific state have been sponsored on same-sex marriage (SSM) by secular, political and religious groups. Unfortunately, they do not necessarily give an accurate picture of support for SSM. There are many ways to distort polling results that are sometimes employed by groups who are more motivated to justify their beliefs than to accurately sample public opinion. Even if no distortion is intentionally taking place, the results will vary simply because of the precise question asked.

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2003 to 2008: Garden State Equality Polls:

Zogby International and Rutgers-Eagleton conducted a series of public opinion polls for Garden State Equality -- a gay-positive group promoting marriage equity. They attempted to determine support of, and opposition to, same-sex marriage (SSM) among adults in New Jersey. Results show a gradual increase of support and lessening of opposition to SSM.

Zogby polls:

Date % favor SSM % opposed to SSM Undecided
2003-JUL 55% 41% 4%
2005-APR-12 to 14 55 40 5
2006-FEB-08 to 10 56 39 5
2007-AUG-08 to 10 63 31 6
2008-AUG 1 59 36 5

The sudden increase in SSM support during 2007 might have been caused by the availability of civil unions for same-sex couples at that time. The law came into effect on 2007-FEB-19. The 2007-AUG poll was taken among 803 New Jersey voters; the margin of error is ±3.5% 2 The gradual trend showing an increase in support and decrease of opposition to SSM seems to have been resumed in 2008

Rutgers-Eagleton polls:

Date % favor SSM % opposed to SSM Undecided
2003-SEP 3 43 50 7
2006-JUN 50 44 6

There appears to be a consistent difference between the results of the two polling companies. 2,3,4 This is probably due to the precise wording questions asked.

Additional findings:

bullet 2006-FEB: The Zogby results, for 2006-FEB, also showed:
bullet 68% of Jews favor marriage equity, as do
bullet 67% of Democrats
bullet 62% of Independents
bullet 60% of Catholics.

In addition:

bullet 67% of New Jersey voters oppose a constitutional amendment to ban SSM;
bullet 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."

bullet 2006-DEC: A Zogby poll showed that 65% of New Jerseyans believe that same-sex marriage is inevitable, while only 28 percent do not. 5
 
bullet 2007-AUG: A Zogby poll showed that 61% of New Jersey voters expect the state to enact marriage equality within two years; 29% disagree. History has proven the majority wrong. Four years later, in mid-2011, there is a bill in the legislation and a lawsuit in Superior Court to enable SSM in the state.

Another finding was that 55% of the subjects said that they would be less likely or much less likely to do business with a company that denies equal benefits to gay employees.

Perhaps the most meaningful question asked was:

"Which of the following comes closest to your own point of view: 

(A) If gay couples want to marry, let them.  It will ensure equality and will not affect marriages of heterosexual couples anyway.

(B)  Allow gay couples to enter into civil unions, but not marriage. Allowing gay couples to marry will hurt the institution of marriage. 

(C)  Do not allow gay couples to marry or enter into civil unions,? 

48% of voters supported marriage equality, 30% supported civil unions but no more, and 20% supported neither marriage nor civil unions for same-sex couples. 2

2007-NOV: Jersey Family Policy Council poll:

A survey conducted by WomanTrend, a division of "the polling company inc" for the New Jersey Family Policy Council (NJFPC) produced totally different results. The Council is a conservative group pursuing "justice and righteousness," supporting "the traditional family" by denying same-sex couples and their children access to the rights, privileges and protections of marriage. Their survey found:

bullet 54% believe that marriage should remain restricted to between one man and one woman.
bullet 51% would vote for a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. 6

These data differ so much from those of the Zogby and Rutgers-Eagleton polls that we can only conclude that the subjects in the poll conducted for the NJFPC are not randomly chosen, and/or that the questions were highly biased, and/or that the preamble to the questions had the result of biasing the subject against SSM.

One indicator of bias in questioning was when the subjects were asked whether they agreed with the statement:

"Same-sex couples have a right to live as they choose, but they do not have a right to redefine marriage for the rest of society."

61% of voters agreed with the statement. But the question makes no sense.

bullet Loving, committed same-sex couples in New Jersey do not have a right to live as they choose. Many would choose to be married if they had the chance; but they lack that right.
 
bullet Same-sex couples obviously do not have a right to redefine marriage; neither do African Americans, Mormons, males, physicians, or any other minority group. That right is held by the legislature subject to a review of constitutionality by the courts.

The telephone survey involved 600 New Jersey "likely voters" on 2007-OCT-06 to 09. The margin of error is ±4.0%. 6

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Polls during 2009 to 2011-AUG are shown in a subsequent essay.

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References used:

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

  1. "Zogby poll: New Jersey wants to dup civil unions," Freedom to Marry, 2008-AUG-19, at: http://www.freedomtomarry.org/
  2. Zogby Poll: Six months into New Jersey civil unions, voters say change the law to real marriage equality," Garden State Equality, 2007-AUG, at: http://www.gardenstateequality.org/
  3. "News from Garden State Equality," 2006-JUN-23, at: http://eqfed.org/
  4. "Garden State Equality-Zogby Poll of New Jersey," 2005-APR, at: http://www.gardenstateequality.org/
  5. Robert Rakelly, "N.J. governor signs civil unions law - State Supreme Courts in Massachusetts," Seattle Gay News, 2006-DEC, at: http://www.sgn.org/
  6. "New Jerseyans Say: Live & Let Live for Same-Sex Couples But DON'T Redefine Marriage Law for Everyone Else," New Jersey Family Policy Council, 2007-NOV-14, at: http://www.njfpc.org/

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

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Copyright © 2009 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Parts originally written: 2009-APR-23
Latest update: 2012-JAN-13
Author: B.A. Robinson

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