Public support for same-sex marriage slips in New Jersey

Public support for a same-sex marriage bill in New Jersey has slipped, to the point where more people oppose the idea than back it, according to a Quinnipiac University poll out today.

According to the poll, 49 percent of those surveyed oppose a law to allow same-sex couples to marry, compared to 46 support who support the idea. That's a change from the April survey that found 49 percent of voters supported same-sex marriage against 43 percent who opposed it. In three of the four Quinnipiac polls that raised the question (last week, April, December 2006 and November 2006), opponents have outweighed supporters.

The poll of 1,615 New Jersey voters had a 2.4 percent margin of error.

The latest numbers come as New Jersey lawmakers debate whether to take up the issue this year and the window begins to close on gay-rights' groups opportunity to get the law approved. Gov.-elect Christopher J. Christie takes office Jan. 12 and has said he would veto a same-sex marriage bill, likely eliminating its chances of approval for at least four years.

Some Democrats are pressing for action on the measure, but support appears to be wavering, according to our report this week in the Inquirer and a story in the New York Times.

The issue has already gone to the Supreme Court, which ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to equal rights as heterosexual ones, but left it up to the Legislature to decide how to provide those rights. The Legislature and Gov. Corzine opted to offer civil unions instead of marriage, but gay-rights groups say the unions do not provide the same protections and rights as marriage.

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