Has California reached a turning point on gay marriage?

A new poll shows a bare majority of the state supports the recent Supreme Court decision and will oppose an effort to overturn it.


Justin Jouvenal
May 29, 2008 1:01AM (UTC)

It's been a rough month for opponents of gay marriage in California. In mid-May, the state Supreme Court decided to overturn California's prohibition on gay marriage. Now, for the first time ever, the state's most trusted pollster says a majority of Californians are in favor of allowing gay couples to wed.

A Field poll released Thursday found state residents supporting gay marriage 51 percent to 42 percent. By nearly the same margin (51 to 43), residents also said they did not approve of an amendment to the state's Constitution that, if passed by voters, would override the court's decision and ban gay marriage. The amendment will likely appear on the state's ballot in November.

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"I would characterize it as a historic poll," Mark DiCamillo, the Field poll director, told the San Jose Mercury News.

The poll may signal a sea change among California voters, who have been slowly edging toward greater tolerance of gay marriage over the past few decades. Then again, it may not. A poll released by the Los Angeles Times less than a week ago told a different story: That poll found California voters did not approve of the state Supreme Court decision and backed the proposed ban. (Once again, proof that the real loser this election season may be the pollsters.)

The Field poll found one thing consistent with previous surveys on the issue of gay marriage, a generation gap; 68 percent of young voters approved, while 55 percent of those over 65 disapproved.


Justin Jouvenal

Justin Jouvenal is an editorial fellow at Salon and a graduate student in journalism at New York University.

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