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While half of New Jersey voters agree with the state supreme court that same-sex couples should receive the same rights as heterosexuals, just one in four think gay unions should be called marriages, according to a new poll.
''People in New Jersey are very supportive of equal rights, but the concept of marriage is more complicated,'' said Mickey Blum, whose firm, Blum and Weprin Associates, performed the telephone survey for The Star-Ledger of Newark.
The poll, conducted November 1-2 and published in the newspaper Monday, questioned 777 registered voters and had a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Fifty percent support the high court's recent ruling that granted gay couples equal rights but gave the legislature 180 days to define those rights. Overall, 23% of respondents favored allowing gays to marry in New Jersey.
The poll found 17% are undecided about the supreme court's ruling.
''This is an issue people are struggling with,'' Blum said. ''They seem to be trying to decide what is reasonable or fair.''
Gov. Jon S. Corzine prefers calling unions between gays civil unions, and legislative leaders have said the legislature likely wouldn't approve calling them marriages.
Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, a gay rights organization, said the undecided responses in the poll shows people don't understand what same-sex marriage means. "There is talk about pushing through a civil union bill, but we urge the legislature to give us time," he said.
A poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University last week found 53% agreed with the high court's decision, while 40% disagreed, though the poll didn't ask how the rights should be defined. A Rutgers-Eagleton poll last week found a bit more than half of New Jerseyans favor changing the state constitution so that same-sex marriage would be banned. (AP)