New poll shows majority of Californians approve of gay marriage

Wed. July 21, 2010 12:06 AM by

San Francisco - A new Field Poll shows a majority of Californians approve of gay marriage, but also suggests they would prefer civil unions for gay couples.

The poll released Tuesday shows a clear majority (51 percent in favor, 42 percent opposed) of Californians supporting gay marriage. But when given the choice of civil unions for gay couples, the number shrinks to 44 percent.

The survey's results are identical to a June 2008 poll taken before voters approved a gay marriage ban, Proposition 8, in November. The constitutional amendment trumped a state Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage.

A ruling on a challenge to Proposition 8 is expected any day now.

The results offer little comfort to gay rights groups who have vowed to overturn the gay marriage ban in 2012.

A glimmer of hope, however, can be found in the number of respondents who say they disapprove of gay marriage, which bumped up 2 percent in 2009 after passage of Proposition 8. That number has since retreated back to its 2008 all-time low of 42 percent, but has refused to budge any further.

In speaking to the Sacramento Bee, Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo conceded the results show little progress has been achieved during the intervening years since voters approved Proposition 8. He said the results suggest "there's enough flexibility to move in either direction."

The annual survey of 1,390 registered voters in California found stark differences among age groups, political affiliations and religious denominations.

The survey found that a majority of respondents under 39 approve of gay marriage, and disapproval increases with age. Fifty-one percent of Californians 65 or older object to gay marriage.

Catholics remains nearly evenly divided on the issue, while Protestants overwhelmingly disapprove of gay marriage, 57 to 34 percent.

Sixty-eight percent of Democrats said they approve of marriage equality, but nearly the same number (66%) of Republicans disagree.

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine