New Jerseyans Open to Gay Marriage

A new poll finds more Garden State residents accept gay marriage.

By Eric Luu
|  Thursday, Nov 19, 2009  |  Updated 2:31 PM EDT
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New Jerseyans Open to Gay Marriage

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A Rutgers-Eagleton poll conducted with 903 New Jerseyans between Nov. 6 and Nov. 10. shows residents are now accepting of gay marriage.

The poll finds New Jerseyans support gay marriage 46 percent to 42 percent, with a 3.3-percentage-point margin of error. The rest were undecided.

“New Jerseyans are more supportive of gay marriage than opposed to it, and more importantly, a majority would accept a legislative decision legalizing same-sex marriages,” said David Redlawsk, the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll director and Rutgers University professor of political science. “While this tests opinion outside the intensity of a campaign to ban gay marriage, as occurred in California, there is more of a ‘live and let live’ attitude in New Jersey than in many other states that have dealt with this issue.”

More than half would accept gay marriage if it was legalized, but 40 percent would like a constitutional amendment to ban it if such a bill passes in the Legislature.

“If the Legislature passes a bill on gay marriage, results suggest that most New Jersey residents will accept the decision,” said Redlawsk. “There will be a strong reaction from opponents, but for the most part, opponents actually see this as a less important issue than do supporters.”

About half of the undecided respondents would support legalizing gay marriage, Redlawsk said. The survey found that only 18 percent would support any restriction on same-sex marriage.
 
For most New Jersey residents, however, gay marriage isn’t really an issue.

“This holds across the board,” said Redlawsk. “Even African-Americans, who are strongly opposed, do not consider gay marriage an important issue; 53 percent say it is not at all important."

Knowing someone who is gay increases the support significantly and more than half of New Jerseyans know someone who is gay.

“Social scientists hypothesize that having contact with people who are different from ourselves can result in greater sympathy for and understanding of others,” Redlawsk said. “This is clearly the case in New Jersey. Knowing a gay person results in much greater support for gay marriage, probably because having such contact results in seeing past whatever differences we imagine there are between people.”
 

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