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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 2, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 09
Support for marriage takes a big jump in California, new poll says
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Support for marriage takes a big jump in California, new poll says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A new Field Poll released on February 29 shows a big jump in support for marriage equality among California voters.

Californians now favor marriage equality by a 25-point margin, with 59% in favor to a mere 34% opposed, In 2010 polling the margin was only nine points, with a slim 51% majority favoring marriage equality and 42% opposed.

Prop 8, which took away equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, passed in 2008 by a margin of 52.3% to 47.7%.

Poll director Mark DiCamillo said the jump to a 25-point margin goes beyond the gradual increase in support that has been expected as young voters - who are statistically much more likely to support LGBT rights - replace older voters in the voter pool.

'This is now showing that opinions are changing irrespective of generational replacement,' DiCamillo said. 'This is real change.' Equality California and Love Honor Cherish - both supporters of marriage equality - independently decided not to try to qualify a Prop 8 repeal measure for the November ballot. Had they done so, the new polling data suggests they may have won.

However, the situation is somewhat more complicated.

Prop 8 was ruled unconstitutional by federal district judge Vaughn Walker, and Walker's decision was upheld by a Ninth Circuit Court panel on February 7.

Opponents of equal marriage rights have appealed to the full Ninth Circuit, although the court is widely expected to uphold the panel. Some observers say the U.S. Supreme Court will decline to hear an appeal in this case, meaning that the Ninth Circuit decision will stand, and Prop 8 will be reversed without the need for an election campaign.

DiCamillo believes that the court decisions upholding marriage rights for same-sex couples have actually helped to move poll numbers in favor of equality. California voters still hold the judiciary in relatively high regard, he said, and years of court battles around marriage are probably helping to persuade voters that supporting equality is the right thing to do.

'The winds of change are blowing in other states [and] when judges start ruling the same way, I believe that has an influence,' he said.

As in the PPP poll in Washington state, released February 22, age and party affiliation are good predictors of support for marriage equality.

Sixty-nine percent of California voters under 40 now support equal rights for same-sex couples, while only 26% do not. Among voters in the 40-64 age group, 59% support equality against 34% who do not. The 65 and over group is evenly spilt, 45%-45%.

As might be expected, Democratic voters in California are heavily in favor of marriage equality, 69% to 25%. Voters classified as 'nonpartisans/others' are also supportive, by about the same margin, 67% to 25%.

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