Saturday, October 29, 2011

Majority in New Jersey Back Marriage Equality

A Rutgers-Eagleton Poll has found that a majority of residents in New Jersey support gay marriage. If they ask about "gay marriage" the support comes in at 52%, if they ask if people support marriage equality support jumps to 61%. People are strange. If you ask if they oppose gay marriage, 39% say they do, but ask if they oppose marriage equality for gay couples and then only 27% want legal discrimination. And 9% don't know what they believe.

The poll director, David Redlawsk, says that all age groups support marriage for gay couples except those over the age of 65. "Whatever it is called, support for state recognition of same-sex marriage remains strong and most likely will grow over time," he said. Democrats and independents support marriage rights strongly, while Republicans again are the party of inequality and big government regulation.

The poll shows the importance of terminology. A press statement from the poll says:
While support measured with the term “marriage equality” is stronger than for “gay marriage,” by 61 percent to 52 percent, certain groups are especially influenced by the name change. Support among those who never attended college jumps 25 points to 66 percent for marriage equality, while support among men climbs 16 points to 63 percent. Women, stronger supporters of the issue in the first place, are less influenced; their support increases 3 points to 59 percent when marriage equality is used to describe the relationship. Catholics are also particularly responsive to reframing the issue: 49 percent favor legalizing gay marriage but rises 63 percent when asked about marriage equality.
Language also greatly influences senior citizens. While opposition to gay marriage is strong among those 65 and over, with only 32 percent supporting legalization and 53 percent opposing it, results flip when marriage equality is used. Nearly half (49 percent) of older respondents approve if marriage equality is used. One-third oppose and 16 percent are unfamiliar with the phrase or are uncertain.
“This illustrates how language used to describe an issue really matters,” said Redlawsk. “While on the whole, New Jerseyans are ready to see the state legalize same-sex marriage, calling the issue marriage equality minimizes many of the differences between groups we see when gay marriage is used. Americans have a deep belief in equality as a concept. When equality is attached to same-sex relationships, it generates a more positive response based on that underlying ideal.”
Pollster suggest that Republican opposition "is deep and unlikely to change easily." Deep rooted prejudice is unlikely to change quickly. Young people, under 30 are most supportive. About 70% of them support "gay marriage" and 75% support marriage equality. Redlawski suggests that young people "are really responding 'why is this even an issue?'"

About one in four say they have gay family members and 53% say they have gay friends. People who do have gay friends or family are more supportive of marriage equality, at 60%.

Upper income people are more supportive than people at the lower end of the economic ladder. And religious people are least supportive. For Catholics 63% marriage equality where 49% support "gay marriage." The least supportive group of religious people remains fundamentalists with only 18% supporting gay marriage, though support increases to a plurality (41%) when asked about marriage equality.

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