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Prop 8/marriage: Field Poll shows 59% of Californians support same-sex marriage

Marriage equality Prop 8

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By Adam Bink

Big news in the Field Poll today: 59% of Californians support same-sex marriage. If accurate, that is dramatic movement from previous polls, including 7 points from the last Field poll in 2010, and dramatic movement from the poll Equality California shopped around last year during its town halls on whether to go to the ballot to repeal Prop 8.

The survey also showed remarkable movement among critical demographics — in 2008, 64% of Catholics supported Prop 8. In today’s poll, 51% of Catholics support same-sex marriage. There is similar movement among “non-whites” and other groups.

Whether or not you believe the Field poll’s findings are as wide a swing as they show, this, an opinion from the Field Poll’s Director, is for sure:

DiCamillo attributed this spike in support in part to a series of court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage. This month, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco declared California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Should the Supreme Court decide to review the matter, it probably won’t happen until 2013.

Two federal courts, including one this month in San Francisco, have declared the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and woman, unconstitutional. In recent weeks, state legislators in Washington and Maryland have approved laws to make same-sex marriage legal in their states.

Below is a statement from Courage Campaign’s Rick Jacobs.

Courage Campaign

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 29, 2012

MEDIA CONTACT: Ana Beatriz Cholo, 312-927-4845 (cell), [email protected]

Same-sex Marriage Field Poll in California Shows “The Writing is on the Wall”

“This Poll is a Caution to the Right Wing That Leads the Republican Party Today,”
Says Courage Campaign’s Rick Jacobs

Los Angeles — A new Field Poll released today shows that support for same-sex marriage in California has increased dramatically with 59% of residents favoring same-sex unions to 34% who do not — a now-25% gap since Prop 8. The poll showed that the largest increase in approval since 2010 came from middle-aged voters, nonpartisans and Republicans. Other significant gains in support come from Catholics, Latinos and older voters.

Poll Director Mark DiCamillo was quoted in a news story as saying, “This is real change.”

“With 59% of Californians now in favor of marriage equality, including nearly half of those over 60, the writing is on the wall,” said Rick Jacobs, chair and founder of the Courage Campaign, a progressive, online, grassroots organization with more than 750,000 members nationwide. “The public clearly believes that gay and lesbian couples are no different than their straight counterparts. We love, have families and build community as do all caring people.

This poll is a caution to the right wing that leads the Republican Party today. Even as Romney, Santorum and Gingrich fight to be king of the anti-gay hill, the winner may discover he’s king of an ant hill.”

Jacobs said the poll shows the effect that the Prop 8 Trial has had on public opinion. Two federal courts have recently ruled that Prop 8 is unconstitutional, citing important Supreme Court precedent. With the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on the ropes in courts across the land, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” a relic of the past and six states plus the District of Columbia having legalized marriage equality (and Maryland set to join them tomorrow), the Supreme Court would be out of the American mainstream if it overruled the California federal courts.

Courage Campaign’s Prop 8 Trial Tracker, the #1 Google search result for “Prop 8 Trial,” brought the Prop 8 Trial into the lives of people all over the world. Courage Campaign’s Testimony story project helped the public see the faces of same-sex marriage like Ed and Derence, whose story made it in front of hundreds of thousands of Californians when it was featured on the cover of the Los Angeles Times. Along with colleagues in the movement, Courage Campaign intends to continue and expand that work so that marriage and full equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, could be won.


Courage Campaign is a multi-issue online organizing network that empowers more than 750,000 grassroots and netroots supporters to work for progressive change and full equality in California and across the country. Through a one-of-a-kind online tool called Testimony: Take A Stand, the Courage Campaign is chronicling the sights, sounds and stories of LGBT families and all who wage a daily struggle against discrimination across America. For more information about Testimony, please visit,


  • 1. Gregory in SLC  |  February 29, 2012 at 7:04 am

    Encouraging : D ! …and more evidence we do NOT need a republican president!

    Republicans and those who identify themselves as conservatives are the only demographic blocs that oppose allowing gays to marry, according to the survey of 1,003 registered voters released today. Overall, 34 percent of the respondents oppose same-sex marriage.

  • 2. MightyAcorn  |  February 29, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Awesome news. That said, I'm glad we're building a body of law to support and enforce equality in areas where voters do not agree instead of relying on polls and initiatives *looking at you, Imperial and Kern Counties.*

    It is gratifying that such a horrible action by the Prop8 haters and their lockstep supporters has massively backfired by raising awareness and support for marriage equality around the globe. I am sad so many have suffered through this time, but at least changes for the better are happening. I wish there was some way to compensate those who have been denied. The unfairness of this situation, despite our advances, is still galling.

    I hope Prop 8 also spurs radical change to our rotten CA initiative system…no thanks to the CASC there, I'm afraid.

    We need to keep working for a more just world and a healthier body politic. Glad this site is here to keep us focused and informed, so thanks P8TT! Thanks also to all who joined as new sustaining supporters…I see we reached our goal there too!

  • 3. Rich  |  February 29, 2012 at 8:47 am

    So much is happening across the land…it is, indeed, encouraging. The latest NOM post is a shrill and angst filled plea from Brian for more money. Me thinks they might be in dire straights. Nobody likes to support a losing cause. I, however, like winning causes and will now become a monthly donor to Prop 8 Trial Tracker.

  • 4. Gregory in SLC  |  February 29, 2012 at 8:53 am

    maybe we can hold a "fundLOSER" for NOM ; )

    p.s. CONGRATS P8TT for meeting your goal!

  • 5. Adam Bink  |  February 29, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Thanks for the help, Greg!

  • 6. Steve  |  February 29, 2012 at 9:23 am

    I don't know. That could just be an anomalous poll and the high percentage could be related to their methodology and what people they asked. They'd need to do more polls in more diverse areas to see if it's really true

  • 7. Sagesse  |  February 29, 2012 at 9:40 am


  • 8. EricKoszyk  |  February 29, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Here's their methodology:

    Does anyone see anything that would increase the likelihood that this is an outlier poll?

    I see two really good things: 1) In one of their two questions they use the word "homosexual" which usually decreases support for marriage equality and 2) they called many more land lines than cell phones.

    Anyone else see anything interesting?

  • 9. EricKoszyk  |  February 29, 2012 at 10:59 am

    This is so sweet: A Lutheran minister in Tacoma, WA who supports marriage equality, especially because he has two gay grandchildren.

    And a great story about another family in WA:

  • 10. Glen  |  February 29, 2012 at 11:56 am

    This is GREAT news, though not unexpected. Those poll numbers continue to rise. It's true that NOM has done more to help accelerate marriage equality than they could have ever hoped to have prevented it. They have forced this dialog to happen across America, and when America hears the arguments on both sides they can't help but be convinced by the marriage equality side. It's not even questionable, it becomes clear and obvious that it's right to back marriage equality, ESPECIALLY if you believe in and support marriage.

    Now with that in mind it's important to note this is a public opinion poll, which does not directly translate to what happens at the voting booth. What happens there doesn't always reflect what the majority of the public wants. The opposition has a built-in and wide-spread organizational advantage, their churches, along with a membership that can be fervent, easily swayed, and instructed to let nothing stop them from getting to the polls, they will even get them there in droves.

    While much of the general public support is going to consist of people who, while they truly DO believe gay couples should have equal marriage rights, aren't involved with such organizations like the opposition has at its disposal, or otherwise aren't going to have a gung-ho-must-get-to-the-polls-at-any-cost-to-vote-on-this attitude.

    Still 59% favorability is a good margin. I'd like to see the registered and likely voter numbers. You need a pretty good margin just to overcome the problem mentioned above. There might be real value in taking this back to the polls for voters to overturn Prop 8.

    If done, we could also gain from the advantage of asking the question in the affirmative for same-gender marriage equality.

    We now know that when people are asked if marriage should be defined as being between one man and one woman, instead of asking should same-gender couples have equal marriage rights, we lose SEVERAL percentage points in the polls. The former question leaves open EVERY other possibility for defining marriage, while the latter question is much more specific, asking just about same-gender couples being including in marriage. Our opposition LOVES to ask the former question. They seem to think that's the question to be asked. It's not. That's the wrong question.

    Let's ask the RIGHT question, the accurate question.

    I think it's of GREAT value to have the courts decide on this to set legal precedent (that's given my belief that even the courts can't ignore the obvious unconstitutionality of such discrimination). But, it would sure be heartening to have the people themselves demonstrate they've come to this understanding and vote to overthrow Prop 8. I'm wondering if that should happen, would that basically stop the legal challenges in their tracks? Can we have the people repeal the amendment but still have the courts make a ruling on it?

  • 11. DaveP  |  February 29, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    hi Glen. Yes, it is great that the public opinion has shifted so much and continues to shift. BUT – to your question at the end of your post – no, we must absolutely not take this to the polls, even if we are sure we will win. This is because if we win marriage equality at the polls before the trial is concluded, the defendants in the Perry trial will suddenly not be 'suffering harm' due to Prop 8, and the trial will become moot – it will come to a complete stop, WITH NO FINAL DECISION, as if it never even happend. And THAT will mean that every two years some anti-gay group will gather enough sgnatures to put our rights back on the ballot AGAIN and we will have to spend all that money and time fighting to keep our equal rights, again and again. We MUST let the trial conclude so the court can rule "civil marriage is a fundamental right and NO, you cannot subject civil marriage rights to a popular vote. It is unconstitutional". Without that ruling, we are right back where we started. We will keep getting our constitutional rights put up to a popular vote over and over again with each election cycle.

  • 12. Glen  |  March 1, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    I agree. That's why I wanted to know if it were possible to repeal Prop 8 but still get the Supreme Court to rule on it. If repealing it would basically stop that process then I would rather it not be repealed until the court issues a ruling (which would either make a repeal unnecessary or less-likely, necessary).

    I also oppose having basic Constitutionally guaranteed civil rights inappropriately and impermissibly put up to a public vote. After all they are called RIGHTS for a reason.

    Still, there would be GREAT satisfaction in having a vote of the people stomp all over NOMs favorite talking point (voters always side with them), rather than feeding them more of their next favorite talking point ("activist" courts have to impose "gay marriage" on an unwilling people).

    But.. I think they are running out of steam with those bogus claims and ultimately it's far better to get a definitive court ruling on the Constitutional mandate that people, regardless of gender, sexual-orientation or other individual characteristics, are to be treated equally by the law.

  • 13. Jon  |  February 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Absolutely NOM has advanced marriage equality.

    When I came to this debate, where my mind was at: why shouldn't gays get married? How does it hurt me? Yeah, it does seem a little weird, but whatever.

    Then I saw the heavy handed tactics and utterly misleading ads from Prop. 8. Turned me off. But still, doesn't domestic partner solve the problem?

    Then I saw the trial testimony. I saw the human face of this. I think it was Helen Zia that did it for me. "Went to window where they issue dog licenses . . . Wanted to have big wedding reception like every other couple would have . . . Our marriage was invalidated a week before our wedding reception"

    And that was it. My eyes were opened. How would I feel if my marriage had been treated that way, if my wife and I had been denied?

    So NOM has been effective. I wouldn't have realized this without the proposition, the campaign, the trial. Lots of people would not have.

    Oh and: we don't have children. As it happens, we don't want children. NOM made it very clear how much our marriage is a waste and travesty. NOM seems to go out of its way to offend people. The world view is so narrow, the hate palpable.

    So I'd say NOM has also been effective in educating the public on just who gets all bent out of shape about gay marriage, and why.

    I started out thinking marriage equality was OK, I'm not opposed.

    Thanks to NOM I now believe it's the defining civil rights issue of our time.

  • 14. Kate  |  February 29, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Wow. I wish the NOMbies could/would read this! What terrific "testimony," Jon. Thank you!

  • 15. Bob  |  February 29, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    ditto,,,, Jon,,,, that post should get it's own seperate page,,,,,,, thank you

  • 16. Bob Barnes  |  February 29, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    I hate to put it this way, but sometimes compassion is born out of witnessing the most ugliest behavior. NOM, NOM's affiliates and the NOM blogs have been most helpful for exposing the ugliest of bad souls or souls mislead.

  • 17. Jamie  |  February 29, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Thanks Jon. A great reminder that many people that voted for Proposition 8 did it without knowing anything about gay people, without considering the issue at all. They just voted for marriage to be limited because they thought that was the way things are and didn't know anything else. They didn't know the damage it does, they don't know that domestic partnerships aren't equal, they don't know how the state is treating gay couples.

  • 18. Straight Ally #3008  |  February 29, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Encouraging, but I want to see polls in Maine, Maryland, and Washington.

  • 19. Mike, Baltiomore  |  March 1, 2012 at 12:46 am

    Feb. 22 PPP poll in Washington state shows 50% in favor, 46% opposed.

    Latest poll I can find on Maryland is from The Washington Post, reported on Jan. 30 of this year, prior to the House of Delegates and Senate hearings, let alone passage. Still, it showed 50% support, 44% opposed.

    The only article mentioning a Maine poll I could find shows 54% in favor of marriage equality, nothing stated about opposition (in terms of vote %).

    One other poll of interest: In Iowa (DesMoins Register – Feb. 27), 56% are against a legislative initiative to pass a constitutional amendment, 38% for. In other words, more than half are in favor of same sex marriage.

    Side note: We need to discuss with some people their terminology. Some of us call it same sex marriage, some call it marriage equality. It is NOT 'gay marriage' as some seem to think it should be labeled, unless they want to treat lesbians differently than gay males.

  • 20. Str8Grandmother  |  March 1, 2012 at 3:13 am

    Mike, Baltimore = "Side note: We need to discuss with some people their terminology. Some of us call it same sex marriage, some call it marriage equality. It is NOT 'gay marriage' as some seem to think it should be labeled, unless they want to treat lesbians differently than gay males. "

    Str8Grandmother = I so wish we would have that discussion. We are not fighting for any kind of hyphenated marriage, we are fighting for-
    ***Civil Marriage***
    Not Holy Marriage, Not Same Sex marriage but ***Civil Marriage***

    I think it is probably the same Glen who commented on GoodAsYou when he said over there "Same Gender Civil Marriage" I like that, and I think it is the most accurate way to state it.

    For myself, most of the time I am in discussions of Constitutionality, so I prefer
    ***Civil Marriage for Sexual Minorities***

    This is because most of the time I have to argue how the Majority cannot take Fundamental Rights away from the Minority.

    I know SSM is SO MUCH easier and quicker to write and old habits are hard to break, and it takes more work to structure the sentence to come out as "Same Gender Civil Marriage" or "Civil Marriage for Sexual Minorities."

    Remember the NOM counter protest in Madison Wisconsin?
    Marriage is a CIVIL Right

    Not- Same (hyphenated) Sex Marriage, Not Gay (hyphenated) Marriage,
    "Civil Marriage"

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