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Poll: 57% of New Jerseyans support marriage equality + discussion of Prop 8 and ballot referendum

Marriage equality

By Adam Bink

A new poll out this morning from the respected Quinnipac folks: 57% of New Jerseyans support marriage equality. Comments from Garden State Equality’s Steven Goldstein, including some thoughts on Prop 8 and the idea of a ballot referendum in New Jersey:

In a new Quinnipiac Poll out today, support for marriage equality in New Jersey has risen to an all-time high 57 to 37 percent. We lead in virtually every category, including 52 to 43 percent among Catholics – often wrongly perceived to be on the other side of the issue.

Yet still we oppose changing New Jersey’s entire system of governance – which rightfully makes public referenda almost impossible – and oppose any constitutional amendment that would allow a public referendum on marriage equality. Thankfully, the leaders of our legislature, through which a referendum must first pass in New Jersey, won’t even post a referendum bill to committee.

First, you don’t put the civil rights of a minority up to a vote of the majority. The last time New Jersey did that was in 1915, when a statewide referendum was held to determine whether women should have the right to vote. 58 percent voted no, and 42 percent voted yes. Today a leading champion of equality, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, says of women’s suffrage in New Jersey: “It took the legislature to pass it.” She’s right. In 1920, three years after the state’s unconscionable denial of equal rights for women through a public referendum, the New Jersey Legislature ratified the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution that gave women the right to vote everywhere in America.

Secondly, a public referendum is by no means an expression of popular opinion. Those who peddle that spin are feeding you a heap of misleading pablum. Rather, public referenda are instruments for corrupting the political system with tens of millions of dollars. If our opponents’ fantasy of a public referendum on marriage equality actually came to fruition in New Jersey, you can count on the wealthiest opponents of equality – almost entirely from outside New Jersey – to invest tens of millions of dollars to deny same-sex couples in New Jersey the freedom to marry. Our side couldn’t come to close to raising what they could.

Did I dare just admit that we would likely lose a public referendum on marriage equality in New Jersey? I did. The Governor, who last month vetoed the marriage equality bill, says he is being generous to our cause in his support of putting marriage equality on the ballot, because in his view, we’d have a good chance of winning.

To evoke the Governor’s direct-speaking language: Come on. Be real. Do the Governor and the other opponents of equality really expect us to believe they support a referendum because they’re confident our side would win? Stop it. They know they could buy the election, no matter where the poll numbers stand now.

Case in point: Proposition 8 in California, the November 2008 referendum where California voters defeated marriage equality 52 to 48 percent. In fact, several pre-election polls showed our side leading. Pay heed to these numbers: A Field Poll in California in September 2008 showed Proposition 8 losing – that is, our side winning – by 55 to 38 percent. Those are almost the same pro-marriage equality numbers we see in today’s Quinnipiac Poll of New Jersey. So what happened in California? An infestation of political money, including much out-of-state money.

By the way, given the recent decision of a panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution, the entire question of a public referendum in New Jersey ardently advanced by our opponents may be nothing more than a cynical political game.


  • 1. Sagesse  |  March 1, 2012 at 10:54 am


  • 2. Alan_Eckert  |  March 1, 2012 at 11:18 am

    I abhor the thought of putting this on the ballot because it brings out the worst comments from our opposition. I can deal with it personally, but I can't stand the thought of others who can't or are in the closet having to listen to that crap.

  • 3. AnonyGrl  |  March 1, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Well said!

  • 4. Kate  |  March 1, 2012 at 11:24 am

    When do we get to know who won the tickets to "8"? It's almost time for the performance!

  • 5. Gregory in SLC  |  March 1, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Indeed! A bit of a drive from Utah! At least we can watch it live as Kathleen posted:

  • 6. Glen  |  March 1, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Furthermore in such referendum, you have a MUCH larger, more organized (via churches), more motivated, more likely to vote, base of those who oppose marriage equality. They will let nothing stop them from getting to the polls.

    Whereas among the majority of citizens who support marriage equality, there is a large number of whom, while supportive of the idea, are not so gung-ho about it that they are going to make a special effort to get to the polls on it, if they are not otherwise motivated to go to the polls for other reasons.

    In this regard, public opinion polls are much more representative of the actual people's thoughts than are election polls.

  • 7. Jacob  |  March 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Haven't heard anything about this, but apparently gathering signatures in Ohio.

  • 8. Adam Bink  |  March 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Just posted earlier today, Mr. A. Lee Walkup of WeHo won, and he is thrilled. Also a P8TT reader.

  • 9. Keith  |  March 2, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    I will never trust a poll concerning gay rights. Many people will outright lie about supporting it in the hopes that the lgbt community will pursue a popular vote on it. I would bet money that if this was actually voted on by the people, it would fail. Maybe I'm just jaded, but I never thought California would vote it down. In 2008 the polls right before the election were showing that 53% of Californian's supported marriage equality, and it was voted down. That pretty much speaks for itself about these polls.

  • 10. MightyAcorn  |  March 2, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    It doesn't matter how many people "support" something if they don't get their behinds to the polls. Conservatives are really good at getting their hardliners out to vote. Progressives and liberals, not so much.

    We really need to rally to not only get marriage equality initiatives passed but to keep Obama in office. That means making sure all your friends are registered, and making sure they show up on Election Day. It shocks me how lazy most Americans are about their right (and duty) to vote, and a no- show electorate is the major reason the country's in the mess it's in now.

  • 11. Kevin Sours  |  March 5, 2012 at 11:38 am

    "In 2008 the polls right before the election were showing that 53% of Californian's supported marriage equality, and it was voted down"

    The polls in California were never that high in aggregate. The statistical regression was closer to 50% support.

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