The battle for marriage equality in NJ

On Monday, the New Jersey Senate passed a bill that would legalize marriage equality by a vote of 24-16. The vote was largely divided down partisan lines, with only two Republicans voting in favor:

Two Republicans, Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) and Sen. Diane Allen (R-Burlington) voted yes on the bill.

As the article also notes further down, the bill needs 27 votes in favor to override the veto that Chris Christie has threatened to use should the bill make it to his desk.

Given this, it’s inevitable that like Washington State, marriage equality will end up on the ballot in NJ. It’s not the ideal situation. Civil Rights of this sort should never be put up to a vote; but thanks to the cowardice (and bigotry) of people like Christie this is something we unfortunately have come to expect.

The good news is that a political scientist at Rutgers just released the results of a poll today in which a majority of the registered voters surveyed said they support marriage equality. As the LA Times notes:

The Rutgers-Eagleton poll, released Tuesday, surveyed 914 registered voters and found that 54% of them support gay marriage, which New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie opposes.

Thirty-five percent oppose gay marriage, the poll found.

While this is perhaps a little surprising (even if it fits well within the national trends where we’ve seen majority support in multiple polls now), we shouldn’t take this for granted. David Redlawsk, one of the pollsters who worked on this, puts it well:

“It may be that given several polls showing majority support among voters, supporters of same-sex marriage think it would win in November. But in the face of a likely intensive campaign from opponents, this could be wishful thinking,” he said in a statement accompanying the poll results.

Just like every other Referendum/Initiative battle over marriage equality, we can expect the same old lies trotted out about how marriage equality harms children; about how churches would be “forced” to solemnize same-sex wedding ceremonies, etc. We’ve heard these lies so much now, and refuted them so many times, that we may sometimes take for granted how potent this blatant disinformation can be with swing voters and undecideds.

It’s going to take (another) concerted, well coordinated and on message efforts by gay rights supporters and activists to counteract all the money and lies flowing from the bigots coffers as it gets closer to election day.

 

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