Polling in New Jersey continues to track huge support for the freedom to marry

A new poll released today finds that 60 percent of New Jersey residents support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, with just 31 percent of respondents opposed. 

The latest polling numbers are on par with many recent polls in the state, which demonstrate consistently that it's time for marriage in New Jersey. A March 2013 Quinnipiac survey tracked support at 64 percent.

Clearly, New Jersey is ready for the freedom to marry. Last year, both chambers of the NJ legislature voted in favor of a marriage bill by a vote of 24-16 in the Senate and 42-33 in the Assembly. Unfortunately, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the bill. Now, the New Jersey legislature has until January 2014 to override the governor's veto.

Same-sex couples in New Jersey can currently join together in civil union, a lesser mechanism than marriage that offers some - but not all - of the protections that marriage affords. In the wake of last month's ruling invalidating Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act - a ruling that newly extends the federal protections of marriage to legally married same-sex couples - it's more apparent than ever that civil union is not enough to protect same-sex couples and their families.

Yesterday, the federal government clarified that same-sex couples in civil unions or domestic partnerships will receive some benefits because of their family status, but that for the most part, they "will remain ineligible for most federal benefits programs." Same-sex couples in New Jersey who are joined together in civil union will be unable to file their federal taxes jointly, unable to sponsor foreign spouses for permanent residency in the United States, and unable to gain access to many other federal programs, including Social Security and family leave programs.  

The DOMA ruling and New Jersey's civil union law appear to be in contradiction with a 2006 ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court declaring that same-sex couples and their families must have equal protection as different-sex couples. Now that legally married same-sex couples have access to federal protections of marriage and NJ couples in civil union do not, these NJ couples are clearly unequal to different-sex NJ couples, as well as same-sex couples who are legally married in other states. That's why Lambda Legal has filed a motion for summary judgment in New Jersey Superior Court on behalf of Garden State Equality, the statewide LGBT advocacy group in NJ. Arguments are scheduled for August 15.  

Learn more about the freedom to marry in New Jersey.