Garden State Equality today released the results of a Zogby poll they commissioned. The poll has a sample size of about 803 likely voters and a margin of error of +/-3.5%. The big result is that a plurality of the state supports marriage equality:
Q: New Jersey allows gay couples to enter into civil unions but not marry. Do you agree or disagree that New Jersey should give gay couples the same freedom to marry as heterosexual couples?
Even 28% of Republicans surveyed agreed with the statement along with 48.5% of independents and 61.5% of Democrats. But the more interesting division is along generational lines:
It’s clear that as the new, more open-minded generation replaces the old, equality is inevitable. Poll respondents overwhelmingly indicated that regardless of their position, change is coming soon:
Q: Regardless of where you stand on the issue of allowing gay couples to marry, do you agree or disagree that gay couples will be allowed to get married in New Jersey in a couple of years anyway?
Even 55% of Republicans believe it will happen. Besides New Jersey’s residents that until now have been delegated to second class status, the poll also brings good news to legislators. The poll showed that the legislature also has nothing to fear from granting equal rights:
Q: Which of the following do you think is most likely to happen to legislators if they were to allow gay couples to marry?
Nothing would happen because people care about other issues more: 71.8%
Those legislators would not be reelected: 20.8%
That view is pretty consistent for Democrats, Republicans and Independent voters.
Finally, voters were asked how they would react if the legislature determined that civil unions were not effectively providing true equality and decided to grant true marriage equality:
Q: If public officials in New Jersey come to the conclusion that civil unions for gay couples have not worked to provide equality under the law, and that the way to fix the law is to give gay couples the same right to marry as heterosexual couples, would you be fine with that or would you be upset by that?
Fine with that: 62.5%
Upset by that: 31.1%
Perhaps most surprising is that even among Republicans, only a narrow majority of 50.6% would be upset with the move while 43.2% would be fine with it. This might be a good time for them to remove the Hate-mongering divide and conquer chapter from the campaign playbook, unless they want to slice and dice their own party up. Garden State Equality chair Steven Goldstein noted the importance of this result:
“Regardless of whether any public official supports marriage equality or wants to maintain the state’s failed civil unions law, no official in New Jersey can credibly say that marriage for gay couples is a divisive issue in the state. Even voters who oppose marriage equality are ready to accept an upgrade of the state’s civil unions law to real marriage equality.”
Asked how they would react to companies that refused to provide same-sex couples with the same rights they grant to straight couples, 35% of respondents said they would be less likely (15% somewhat less and 20% much less) to do business with that company.
Now, if you knew that a company refused to give the same benefits to gay couples that it gives to straight married couples, would that make you much more likely, somewhat more likely, somewhat less likely, or much less likely to support that company with your business, or does it make no difference in your support?
Much more likely: 7.8%
Somewhat more likely: 3.5%
Somewhat less likely: 15.3%
Much less likely: 20.1%
No difference: 50.5%
Overall these are incredibly encouraging numbers. A plurality of residents support marriage equality, they believe it is inevitable, and only a small minority think there will be any backlash from it. The only piece missing is the legislature that until now has been completely tone-deaf and way behind the electorate.