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Californians support marriage equality by 22 points, according to new poll

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

As Scottie mentioned briefly in his round-up yesterday, a new USC/Los Angeles Times poll released yesterday found that 58 percent of registered California voters support marriage equality, with only 36 percent of voters opposed.  From the Times‘ article examining the results:

The poll found that 58% of the state’s registered voters believe same-sex marriage should be legal, compared with 36% against, a margin of 22 points. When the same pollsters asked that question three years ago, 52% favored gay marriage and 40% opposed it, a 12-point spread.

Most national polls this year have found majority support, but only one of those surveys reported it as high as 58%. The average was roughly 51% in favor of gay marriage. As in the rest of the country, more women (63%) than men (52%) in California favor same-sex marriage.

Younger California voters also support gay marriage by larger margins than older voters, the poll found. Whereas 76% of voters ages 18 to 29 support legalizing the unions, only 52% of those ages 50 to 64 agree.

Still, the shifts among older voters are dramatic. Voters 65 and older are now almost evenly divided — 46% in favor, 47% against — compared with just three years ago, when seniors opposed gay marriage by 19 percentage points.

“Even the least-receptive audiences for same-sex marriage in California are split,” said Drew Lieberman, vice president of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, a Democratic firm that participated in the poll. “There has been an across-the-board sea change on this issue.”

Support for marriage equality was highest in the Bay Area, at 69 percent, and lowest in the Central Valley, where voters are evenly split at 45 percent in favor and 45 percent opposed.  Nevertheless, support in the Central Valley has risen six points in just three years.  Also of interest, a near-majority of respondents (49 percent) said they strongly supported marriage equality.  Only 30 percent said they strongly opposed it.

Among racial groups, whites were more likely to support equal marriage rights (61 percent to 34 percent) than Latinos, although a majority of Latinos expressed support, 51 percent to 44 percent.

In another LGBT rights related question, the poll asked respondents whether they support or oppose a proposed California policy that would require schools to allow transgender students to play sports and use bathrooms based on their gender identity as opposed to their sex.  A slim plurality of respondents, 46 percent, were opposed, as opposed to 43 percent who were in favor of the policy.  Whites were more supportive than Latinos, and more respondents said they were strongly opposed as opposed to strongly supportive.

As we wait for the Supreme Court’s ruling on Prop 8, it has become increasingly clear that the California body politic is supportive of marriage equality.  Even if the Supreme Court doesn’t definitively resolve the issue, that support is almost certain to play a part in any further litigation that might happen at the state level.

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