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Support For Same-Sex Marriage Reaches 59% In California

Just three years after Californians narrowly approved Proposition 8, public opinion in the Golden State on the issue of gay marriage has changed dramatically:

A new poll shows gay marriage has arrived in California – in public opinion if not in state lawbooks.

Golden State registered voters now favor same-sex unions by 59 percent to 34 percent, a 25-point gap that is the largest margin of support for the issue in the three-plus decades the Field Poll has been asking the question.

The new Field survey shows support has leapt markedly in the three and a half years since California voters approved Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, 52.3 percent to 47.7 percent.

The poll showed increases in support virtually across the board – among voters under 64, non-white voters, Catholics, Republicans and nonpartisans.

Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said the move to a 25-point gap goes beyond the gradual increase in support that has been expected as young voters age and “replace” older voters in the electorate.

“This is now showing that opinions are changing irrespective of generational replacement,” DiCamillo said. “This is real change.”

Indeed it is, and it’s reflective of the extent to which public opinion on homosexuality has changed so dramatically over the past two decades or so. It also suggests that the anti gay marriage initiatives of the mid-2000s were, to a large extent, the high water mark for the opponents of marriage equality as well as being the dying salvo of a reactionary backlash against the general societal acceptance of homosexuality. Change is coming, faster than many thought it would.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Septimius says:

    Wow. 59%! Sounds like repealing Prop 8 should be easy. I wonder why they’re not interested in putting it on the ballot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10

  2. de stijl says:

    Doug (or any lawyer reading),

    per this:

    It also suggests that the anti gay marriage initiatives of the mid-2000s were, to a large extent, the high water mark for the opponents of marriage equality as well as being the dying salvo of a reactionary backlash against the general societal acceptance of homosexuality.

    Of those states that passed constitutional amendments banning SSM (and various flavors like also banning civil unions and / or marriage-like legal contracts), how will those be dealt with in the future?

    I know the situation is not the same as Loving v Virginia because those were laws not constitutional amendments.

    Will it require a new state amendment annulling the previous one, or would a federal-level court decision based on the 14th, for example, invalidate those amendments?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. @de stijl:

    A state Constitutional Amendment can be found to be unconstitutional under the Federal Constitution. Absent a court decision, those states that have written bans on same-sex marriage into their Constitutions would need to ratify a new Amendment repealing that Amendment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  4. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Septimius: Didn’t OTB, in recent days, address gay marriage critics’ constant moving of the goal posts?

    The courts are in the process of shooting down unconstitutional Prop 8 – it’s been in the news. But it seems you are saying that’s not good enough.

    In Wingnut World…
    If the people approve of gay marriage – WRONG! This is for lawmakers to decide!
    If lawmakers approve of gay marriage – WRONG! This is for the people to decide!
    If the courts uphold gay marraige – WRONG! Activists on the bench!

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  5. de stijl says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Thanks!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. legion says:

    @Septimius: Actually, that’s a fairly reasonable question. And it has a fairly reasonable answer: if the courts declare the entire concept behind Prop 8 unconstitutional, it can be applied nationwide, and we don’t have to spend the next 10-20 years re-playing this same sad scenario out in every single state.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  7. michael reynolds says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy:
    Exactly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  8. Septimius says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy: Aside from the fact that the OTB argument about “moving the goalposts” is specious, it would be advantageous for the proponents of same sex marriage in California to repeal Prop 8. It’s not a certainty that the ninth circuit decision declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional will be upheld. If Prop 8 were repealed through the ballot referendum, same sex marriage could be made legal through the legislative process. The California legislature has twice passed legislation to legalize it, but it was vetoed by Schwarzenegger. Now, they have a friendly governor in Jerry Brown.

    It seems to me that the judicial route would be the most dangerous for proponents, if public opinion is really that much in favor of ssm.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. jd says:

    But isn’t the legal argument about Prop 8 a narrow one? As in, if you legalized it in the past, you can’t just take rights away again. This would not affect other states with bans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Tsar Nicholas says:

    # 1, indeed, 59% would be a remarkable change. As for why the left wouldn’t immediately want to re-test this issue I presume that ballot referendums are considered too bourgeois for their style. Also, the final poll in 2008 by the esteemed Field Corp. had Prop. 8 losing by five full points (44-49) with only 7 percent undecided. The actual results, however, were quite a bit different. So there may be a bit of polling dissonance afoot.

    Separate but related topic: one thing that’s always baffled me about this issue is why in hell do gays and lesbians want to get married. Seriously. Marriage can be worse than a root canal. Divorce. Alimony. Child support payments. Property settlements. Partitions. Will contests. Beneficiary disputes. Custody battles. Interpleaders. Visitation rights disputes. Community property. So on, so forth. Why not simply shack up and avoid all that?

    In any event, if California wants to put a reverse Prop. 8 on the ballot I’d be all for it. Better by referendum than by judicial fiat, that’s for sure.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  11. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Separate but related topic: one thing that’s always baffled me about this issue is why in hell do gays and lesbians want to get married. Seriously.

    Please tell us you give the same advice to straights.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  12. Herb says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: I think you answered your own question with this list:

    “Divorce. Alimony. Child support payments. Property settlements. Partitions. Will contests. Beneficiary disputes. Custody battles. Interpleaders. Visitation rights disputes. Community property. So on, so forth.”

    That’s exactly why gay people want to get married.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  13. An Interested Party says:

    Better by referendum than by judicial fiat, that’s for sure.

    Yes of course, because it was such a hideous thing that anti-miscegenation laws were overturned by “judicial fiat”…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  14. legion says:

    @Septimius:

    It seems to me that the judicial route would be the most dangerous for proponents, if public opinion is really that much in favor of ssm.

    Actually, you answer your own question here. A few years ago, there was just enough public opinion to put Prop 8 in place. Today, there’s _probably_ enough PO to take it back out. If that happens, you’ll have a huge influx of out-of-state conservatives pushing to get Prop 8 turned back on again, etc., etc., etc.

    As more than one wise dude has said, civil rights can’t be left to a majority vote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  15. Septimius says:

    @legion:

    As more than one wise dude has said, civil rights can’t be left to a majority vote.

    What wise dude ever said that? Of course civil rights can be left to a majority vote. 49 out of 50 states require a majority vote through a referendum to amend their constitution.

    How do you think the Civil Rights Act of 1964 came to be? It wasn’t a Supreme Court decision. It was a law passed by the majority of Congress who were elected by the majority of their constituents and signed by the President.

    How do you think the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution came to be? It was passed by the majority of Congress and ratified by a supermajority of state legislatures. And, it was done, in part, to correct the awful Dred Scott ruling by the Supreme Court.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  16. Carson says:

    I have found timely and thought provoking commentary about this issue at albertmohler.com

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  17. Rick Almeida says:

    @Septimius:

    How do you think the Civil Rights Act of 1964 came to be? It wasn’t a Supreme Court decision. It was a law passed by the majority of Congress who were elected by the majority of their constituents and signed by the President.

    You do realize that the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act were put into place to enforce & implement decisions made by the US Supreme Court, right? A court that found that rights were being violated by laws passed by majorities of the duly elected members of state governments?

    Nah, you don’t realize that at all.

    49 out of 50 states require a majority vote through a referendum to amend their constitution.

    This is also completely wrong. Only 18 states allow constitutional amendment by ballot initiative, and I am not aware of any that require it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  18. Septimius says:

    @Rick Almeida: Actually, you are wrong. 18 states allow constitutional amendments to be initiated by voters. In every other state, except one, the legislature can propose that an amendment be placed on the ballot for a referendum. The voters then make the decision. Only in Delaware, can the state legislature amend the constitution without a vote of the people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Rick Almeida says:

    @Septimius:

    I beg your pardon. I saw referendum and processed initiative.

    The merits of rights subject to plebiscite aside, I believe my substantive point stands.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Rob in CT says:

    I suspect the reason people have chosen not to put “repeal prop 8” on the ballot this cycle is twofold:

    1) The trend. Things keep going in the right direction. 59% in a poll taken w/o any specific initiative on the ballot is nice, but as our friend the Tsar points out, it’s not a slam-dunk. But things keep improving all the time. Why risk another defeat now, especially when…

    2) Prop 8 looks like it’s going down in the courts. If not, then it’s time for another ballot initiative, at which point support will be even stronger.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Herb:

    “Divorce. Alimony. Child support payments. Property settlements. Partitions. Will contests. Beneficiary disputes. Custody battles. Interpleaders. Visitation rights disputes. Community property. So on, so forth.”

    That’s exactly why gay people want to get married.

    I know I want them to have the right to be just as miserable as the rest of us. 😉

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  22. Karen Grube says:

    I’d just like to remind everyone that the only poll that counts is the one at the ballot box. The voters of California have rejected gay “marriage” twice at the ballot box, and will continue to do so, like the rest of the country where this issue has been allowed to be decided by the voters. It’s simple. This country rejects gay “marriage.” But what this really makes clear is that we ALL need to work on electing candidates to the House and Senate, and the Presidency, who will promote and pass an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Candidates who refuse to support this on the grounds of their support for “limited government” and letting the states make these decisions are mistaken about the effect this has on the entire country. This isn’t a fishing license law or a state highway bill. This affects religious freedoms throughout this country as well as the simple preservation of the moral basis of our government. This is something we need to do as a country, not state by state. I just getting sick and tired of this being batted back and forth and I for one want it decided once and for all the way the voters of this country have said they want it decided.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2