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Prop 8: Second poll in last two weeks showing majority of Californians support of marriage equality

Marriage equality Prop 8

By Adam Bink

Last week, the respected Field Poll showed a remarkable 59% of Californians support same-sex marriage. The result was met by many, including myself, with cautious optimism, but it’s clear the public have trended towards equality and in no small part due to the court rulings on the Perry v. Brown case challenging Proposition 8 and the significant amount of news coverage generated by the rulings.

Today, Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released a new poll as part of their every-few-months statewide survey, showing 52% of Californians support same-sex marriage (support jumps to 56% among likely voters). While the numbers have not trended upward in every single poll PPIC has conducted on the topic (50% in March 2010; 52% in September 2010; 53% in September 2011; 52% today), and all the results are within the margin of error, it certainly provides another note of optimism when taken alongside the Field Poll. And, of course, the results are significantly better than in January 2000, when just 39% of Californians supported same-sex marriage.

Some historical results and cross-tabs on today’s poll can be found below, which can be attributed to the PPIC survey.

The latest chapter of the same-sex marriage debate in California recently played out in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel upheld a lower court ruling that Proposition 8—which bans same-sex marriage and was passed by California voters in 2008 (52% yes, 48% no)—is unconstitutional. In the opinion of the court, there is no legitimate reason to treat a class of people differently by stripping away their right to marry, a right that had previously been granted in the state of California. Proposition 8 proponents have now appealed to the full Ninth Circuit. The issue has also made headlines recently as the states of Maryland and Washington passed laws legalizing same-sex marriage.

In PPIC Statewide Surveys, support for allowing same-sex marriage reached 50 percent for the first time in March 2010 (50% favor, 45% oppose), with the margin widening to 10 points in September 2010 (52% favor, 42% oppose) and to 11 points in September 2011 (53% favor, 42% oppose) and today (52% favor, 41% oppose). When the question was first asked in January 2000 (just prior to voters approving a March statewide ballot measure that defined marriage as between a man and a woman), 39 percent of Californians favored same-sex marriage and 55 percent were opposed. In February 2004, just after then- San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom began conducting same-sex marriages (against state law), 44 percent of Californians expressed support, while 50 percent were opposed. Marriages were subsequently halted by the state. Then, in June 2008, the California State Supreme Court ruled that the 2000 initiative was unconstitutional, which led to a brief period in which same-sex marriage was legal.

Leading up to the November 2008 election that included Proposition 8, Californians were slightly opposed (October 2008: 44% favor, 50% oppose). Today, just over half of Californians favor allowing same-sex marriage (52% favor, 41% oppose). The margin of support is larger among likely voters (56% favor, 38% oppose). A strong majority of Democrats (72%) and 56 percent of independents are in favor, while most Republicans (61%) are opposed. Women are in favor, while men are divided. A solid majority of younger Californians support this idea, while those age 35 and older are divided. Support is highest in the San Francisco Bay Area (59%); residents in the Other Southern California region and Los Angeles are somewhat more likely to favor than oppose same-sex marriage; Central Valley residents are divided. Majorities of both whites (57%) and Asians (54%) express support, while the issue divides Latinos. Support increases with rising income and education. Married Californians and parents are divided, while two in three who have never been married support same-sex marriage. A strong majority of those unaffiliated with any religion express support, while Protestants are opposed and Catholics are divided. Six in 10 evangelical Christians oppose same-sex marriage.


  • 1. Phillip K  |  March 8, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Great news! Always take polls with a grain of salt but it does help keep the hope alive.

    Off topic but hoping one of you regulars around here can help out. I've been having debates with a friend of a friend. He's quite religious and conservatively so. One of his big sticking points in our debates is that he separates being homosexual from the act of having sex. He seriously believes that I should be celibate because it's a sin otherwise.

    I've struggled with this point and coming up with an appropriate rebuttal. Here's where I'm hoping you guys can help. I remember reading faintly about either an opinion written during a case or something to that effect that refutes the separation of this. Anyone have any ideas what I may (or I'm getting old…may not) be remembering?

  • 2. kate  |  March 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Part 1:
    Well, I just tried to post the following on the NOMblog, but I guess I am such a threat to them that they won't even run this:

  • 3. kate  |  March 8, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Part 2:
    "There's something I've wondered about for a long time that I'm going to try asking you "traditional" marriage supporters here. I hope it's possible to receive some thoughtful and informative answers without the usual snitty reactions. One of my questions is about divorce. Why aren't NOM supporters against divorce? Divorce tears up the "traditional" marriages you all support; why not object to no-fault divorce to protect marriage? And to make sure that any involved children grow up with both parents?

  • 4. kate  |  March 8, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Part 3:
    Also, TV "reality" shows like The Bachelor really irritate me. I think that kind of thing demeans both marriage and the people who are involved in the show. But I never hear any NOM and/or other "traditional" marriage supporters say anything about that type of production. Why is it OK to demean marriage in this way, to turn it into a competition for a man who is a total stranger to those women? I saw part of it once and was really offended. Why aren't the NOM members as offended as I am? Again, I'd really like to know these things. Please skip the usual meaningless snide remarks against me, if you do care to respond, as resorting to that sort of thing just keeps any sincere reactions you have from having any real impact or informative value. Thank you."

  • 5. kate  |  March 8, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Seriously, it took THREE posts just to get that through? "Too long?" Jeez.

  • 6. kate  |  March 8, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Well, it won't help you a bit, Phillip, but my opinion is that people can believe in all the myths and fairy tales they want and can apply whatever they feel those fantasies mean to their own lives (and I will defend their right to do so), but they have no right to force other people to buy into those same fairy tales. "Sin" is one of those constructs — if your friend's friend believes in "sin" for himself, fine. But to extend it to you (or anyone else) and insist that your behavior follows his own personal choice just plain doesn't cut it. Your feeling that you have to come up with a rebuttal simply buys into what he is saying in the first place. — you don't need to argue the point at all, as it's based on his own choices of mythologies, not yours. Irrelevant.

  • 7. rocketeer500  |  March 8, 2012 at 2:25 pm


    Here are some helpful links:

    Good luck.

  • 8. Jacob  |  March 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Why even have a conversation with that person? Would he have a conversation with you if you said he had to walk around on his hands and eat fishsticks on Tuesdays in order to suit your moral universe? Of course not. Don't allow anyone to engage you in a debate on your personhood.

  • 9. grod  |  March 8, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, June 2010, Ginsburg for the majority rejected that distinction, noting that with respect to sexual orientation the court has "declined to distinguish between status and conduct"
    However the Catholics Church and others makes distinctions: singles including priests and other religious, gays and lesbians couples would be expected to conduct themselves as celibate. For heterosexual married couples, only sexual acts that end in creating the possibility of life are intrinsically of the natural order. – thus acceptable to I Am, Who Am .
    Phillip, don't waste your time in an intellectual debate. Religious adherents will suspend intellect and rely on faith. “A person convinced against his Will [faith], is of the same opinion still”.

  • 10. grod  |  March 8, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Bishop R Malone in his recent pastoral letter The Beauty of Marriage is troubled that Maine has the second highest rate of divorce in the country – for both women and men. He does not acknowledge the size of the divorced Catholics in his diocese. He says social and legal barriers to ending one’s marriage have all but disappeared. He singles out no -fault divorce. He acknowledges its effects of children, the family and community. But the focus of the letter is Marriage.
    Perhaps we are being to hard on Malone and his elk. They have put in place marriage preparation courses taken over an extended period of time. Getting an "annulment'/civil divorce is not a substitute for remarriage preparation before the next wedding. Malone may have it right in focusing back on how to strengthen marriage. Risk factors for failed marriage include couples coming from different faith or cultural traditions. He knows that his pastors are officiating at a significant number of marriages where one of the couple is not a Catholic.
    Divorce is the end of a process of marriage breakdown or separation. Fault/Non-fault is a mechanism to achieve the 'end'.

  • 11. Glen  |  March 9, 2012 at 8:44 am

    Yeah, I don't remember length ever being a problem here. And I'm not entirely sure it is the problem. Or it's only part of a larger problem with the comments section. The worst part though is that you don't get any warning that your posts wasn't acceptable and for what reason. Until you refresh the page and discover it didn't actually post.

    I'm beginning to feel like I'm at NOMs blog. Except there you may get posted and see your post for an hour before someone gets around to actually deleting it. Not for offensive language, but for the strength of what you have to say.

  • 12. Glen  |  March 9, 2012 at 9:04 am

    The reason NOM won't address your question though Kate is for what I've been saying for some time now…

    To NOM this actually has NOTHING to do with marriage. This has always been about societal and State endorsement of their religious beliefs, and their religiously motivated anti-gay animus.

    Look, these are people who think that we actually have laws against murder because that's one of the Ten Commandments! In other words, if that wasn't in the Bible as a commandment, society wouldn't have laws against murder. LOL. Of course many of those commandments have never correlated to American law, but they seem to not notice that. Still if they could they would like to impose ALL Biblical law on society. For NOM creators and supporters, though they won't tell you straight out, they would bring back sodomy laws, and shove gay people back even deeper into the closet, with severe penalties for even sticking a toe out. Not because there is any valid rational secular reason for doing so, but because their religious beliefs demand it, and since it only affects a minority, they can much more easily get majority support. Making our Constitution antithetical to their whole movement.

  • 13. kate  |  March 9, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Very well said, Glen. Christian sharia law at its finest.

  • 14. Phillip R  |  March 9, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Thanks for the info. That was really what I was looking for.

    I'm not going to give in on having debates with him simply because the chances of me convincing him of anything else is slim. The conversations have been rather civil and honestly, I enjoy the debates. I may never change his mind on anything but honestly I'm aiming more for making him think critically about it.

  • 15. Str8Grandmother  |  March 9, 2012 at 11:02 am

    I'll share with you what I think a good debate point is, and that is.
    When the objection is Morals, that is, homosexual conduct is immoral and we should not recognize this immoral conduct.

    Usually I quote from Lawrence v Texas
    “for centuries there have been powerful voices to condemn homosexual conduct as immoral. The condemnation has been shaped by religious beliefs, conceptions of right and acceptable behavior, and respect for the traditional family. For many persons these are not trivial concerns but profound and deep convictions accepted as ethical and moral principles to which they aspire and which thus determine the course of their lives. These considerations do not answer the question before us, however. The issue is whether the majority may use the power of the State to enforce these views on the whole society through operation of the criminal law. “Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code.”

    This, as a general rule, should counsel against attempts by the State, or a court, to define the meaning of the relationship or to set its boundaries absent injury to a person or abuse of an institution the law protects. It suffices for us to acknowledge that adults may choose to enter upon this relationship in the confines of their homes and their own private lives and still retain their dignity as free persons. When sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring. The liberty protected by the Constitution allows homosexual persons the right to make this choice.
    I show that our government stays neutral on sexual morality via Lawrence v Texas.

    Second I point out that when heterosexual couples go to apply for a Civil Marriage License that they do not take a Morals Test. There is no Morals Investigation of Heterosexual Couples.

    Therefore you cannot demand that couples who are sexual minorities must pass a morals test in order to obtain a Civil Marriage License. You cannot demand of sexual minorities that which you do not demand of heterosexuals.

    I usually finish up with, homosexual intimate relations are Constitutionally protected, how could we exclude people from Civil Marriage, which is also Constitutionally Protected, with an excuse of their sexual relations when those relations are Constitutionally protected. They are not doing anything illegal.

    When they throw up Pro-Creation I simply go to Day One of the Perry Trial and copy and paste Dr. Nancy Cott;s testimony where she is asked and answers that we have never had a requirement that citizens have an intent or an ability to pro-create as a condition of issuance of a Civil Marriage License. I mention that she researched the History of Civil Marriage in America, for 10 years wrote the definitive peer reviewed book which was peer reviewed by other eminent Doctors of History.

    Those are always the 2 biggest arguments I run into Pro-creation and morality. I also hammer over and over again "The States Interest" in Civil Marriage (being careful to always use 2 words together Civil + Marriage) according the the testimony of Dr. Cott and how Sexual Minorities meet the States Interest in Civil Marriage. I never discuss religion. Only Civil Marriage. When they drift off into "Holy" Marriage I tell them that the discussion is about Civil Marriage not Holy Marriage, and re-direct back to the Constitutional issues.

    I hope I have been able to help you, no doubt you are saying the exact same things I do, because by now I don't think anyone can come up with an excuse we have not already heard and answered. Oh I have a real good argument for Polygamy if you need it. Just let me know in a comment.

  • 16. Phillip K  |  March 9, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Thanks for all the info. That'll help a lot. He hasn't resorted to the slippery slope arguments with Polygamy or anything like that. So I think I'm alright on that side.

  • 17. DaveP  |  March 9, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Being too hard on them??? Frankly it doesn't matter what they are or are not doing to help straight people stay married. The point is that they are actively working to support discrimination against gay couples. Being helpful to straight people doesn't change that. They are still engaging in horrible, harmful acts that cause real damage to same sex couples and their families.

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