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Support for same-sex marriage in New Jersey reaches new high

gaymarriage102811_optPoll finds 67% want issue decided through a ballot referendum

Support for same-sex marriage in New Jersey has climbed to a new high of 57 to 37 percent, but voters split 48 to 47 percent on whether Gov. Christopher Christie did the right thing in vetoing same-sex marriage legislation, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.

Voters support 67 to 28 percent Christie’s proposal to let them decide the same-sex marriage issue by placing it on the November ballot as a referendum, the poll finds.

Support for same-sex marriage is 61 to 32 percent among women and 51 to 44 percent among men. White Catholics support the move 52 to 43 percent while white Protestants are opposed 50 to 42 percent. Voters who attend religious services weekly oppose same-sex marriage 54 to 39 percent while those who attend services less frequently support the measure 66 to 29 percent.

Given three options for same-sex couples: 47 percent support same-sex marriage; 34 percent support same-sex civil unions, and 13 percent say there should be no legal recognition.

“So the New Jersey State Legislature passed same-sex marriage and Gov. Christopher Christie vetoed it,” Maurice Carroll, the poll‘s director, said. “What’s left, for now anyway, is a political issue.

“The numbers are all over the lot, Carroll said. “Voter support for same-sex marriage goes up every time we ask, but about half of them think Christie was right to veto it. By better than 2 to 1, they like the governor’s proposal for a referendum.

“Only a small percentage thinks there should be no legal recognition of same-sex relationships, but a fair number prefer the state’s current legalization of civil unions. And they approve Christie’s conditional-veto proposal to ensure that civil unions provide enough protection,” Carroll added.

Voters approve 50 to 43 percent of the way Christie is handling education and say 60 to 32 percent his proposal to limit teacher tenure is a good idea.

Opinions on other education questions are: By a 57 to 25 percent margin, voters have a favorable opinion of public school teachers; by a 46 to 31 percent margin, voters have an unfavorable opinion of the New Jersey Education Association, the teachers‘ union. Voters in union households are favorable 42 to 37 percent; voters oppose school vouchers 50 to 44 percent; voters oppose expanding charter schools 52 to 41 percent, and voters say 72 to 24 percent that merit pay for good teachers is a good idea.

Voters know little about issues surrounding the governor’s nomination of two Supreme Court judges: 69 percent say they have not read or heard about the nominations of Phil Kwon and Bruce Harris; Asked if they approve of Kwon’s nomination, 80 percent have no opinion; 81 percent have no opinion of Harris’ nomination; 62 percent have no opinion on whether the New Jersey Bar Association has too much influence over judicial appointments.

“The appointment of two justices to the seven-member Supreme Court matters a lot, but most voters aren’t interested,” Carroll said. “Political insiders, including pollsters, also are watching the governor’s potential squabble with the Bar Association. Again, most voters couldn’t care less.

From Feb. 21 through Tuesday, Quinnipiac surveyed 1,396 registered voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

--TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

 

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