Support for gay marriage in New Jersey has jumped, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released this morning.

A majority (49%) of the people surveyed now support gay marriage in the Garden State, while 43 percent oppose it.

A similar poll conducted in the winter of 2006, as the New Jersey Legislature was debating granting civil unions to gay and lesbian couples, showed only 44% percent of respondents approved of gay marriage and 50% opposed it. That's a jump of nearly 5% in just over 2 years.

“Two years after New Jersey's civil union law went into effect, sentiment for allowing same-sex marriage in the state has shifted from six points against to six points in favor,” said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a statement.

“Support of the same-sex civil union law has risen dramatically and New Jersey voters do not see gay marriage as a threat to traditional marriages between a man and a woman. Support for allowing gay couples to adopt children is nearly 2-1.”

More damaging to opponents are the poll's findings on the argument that gay marriage “is a threat to the traditional marriage between a man and a woman,” the argument most often invoked by gay marriage foes. A large majority (66%) do not believe it's a threat, and the number of believers has shrunk to only 30%, the poll found.

Last week, a poll conducted by the Siena College Research Institute found a similar jump in gay marriage support in New York. The poll found approval had jumped 7% in the last year (10% since 2007), and for the first time a majority (53%) of New Yorkers approve of gay marriage.

Both New York and New Jersey are considering bills that would legalize gay marriage. Public opinion polls showing strong public support on the issue are an indicator of the level of backlash lawmakers can expect if they vote in favor of the legislation.