A huge shift across many demographics has lead to strong majority support for same-sex marriage in California, the contentious state where Proposition 8 was born and repeatedly ruled unconstitutional. Now, 59% of registered voters support marriage equality, up from 51% just two years ago, a new Field poll finds. Only 34% of Californians now oppose same-sex marriage, a 25 percentage point spread.
The largest increases in support over the past two years came from Republicans (+13 percentage points), independents (+15 percentage points), voters 40-64 (+13 percentage points), Protestants (+11 percentage points), and both those married (+13 percentage points), and those divorced (+12 percentage points).
Opposition has dropped as well, from 42% in 2010, to just 34% today. The largest drops also came from Republicans (11 percentage points), and independents (13 percentage points).
Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo classifies the shift as real change,” not just generational replacement.”
The Sacramento Bee reports:
DiCamillo said voters still hold the judiciary in relatively high regard, and years of gay marriage court battles in California are likely contributing to the opinion shift.
“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.
Citrus Heights college student Matthew Boyd, who is in favor of same-sex marriage, said he believes the growth in support stems from increased exposure to gay relationships and the public spotlight on the issue.
“I think as the years have gone on, people are getting more used to the idea,” the 24-year-old Democrat said. “There’s more and more openly gay people every day, public figures, people’s friends. You can see that they love each other and it’s not something the government should be able to say, to tell them what to do.”
In 2008, the poll showed 51 percent of voters in favor of gay marriage with 42 percent opposed – a nine-point gap – but Proposition 8 still passed later that year after supporters’ television ads raised concerns that children would be taught about gay marriage in public schools. The 25-point gap in the current poll, DiCamillo said, would be “a tall order” for gay marriage opponents to overcome should it be put to a vote again.
Still, gay marriage advocates have suspended efforts to put the matter before voters this year.
Eric Harrison, the interim executive director of Love Honor Cherish, said the group – dedicated to overturning Proposition 8 – suspended its campaign to qualify for the November ballot earlier this month because it could not raise the more than $1.5 million needed to collect enough voter signatures. He blamed uncertainty surrounding the 9th Circuit ruling and fractures within the gay community, not poor polling, for the lack of contributions.
“Our position was always that yes, if this was to go back to the ballot in 2012, we would win marriage equality,” he said. “It’s not a question of that.”
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