"Do you think same sex marriage should be legal or illegal?"
Polling 892 California voters, the resulting differential of 11% is far beyond the margin of error (3.3%).
These are awesome results!
PPP polled the same question in September of 2010, but the results were significantly different. By only a slim margin, 46% - 44%, did California's likely voters support legalizing same-sex marriage. The crucial difference? The composition of the electorate.
As is well understood, those who go to the polls in a mid-term election are not identical demographically to those who go to the polls in Presidential election years -- they are typically older, for one -- and it is therefore no surprise that a sampling of registered California voters, not just those likely to vote in the mid-terms, shows significantly wider support for same-sex marriage.
As PPP's writeup put it
It's not really a question of if a majority of Americans will someday support gay marriage, but when. You can see that within the crosstabs on this poll. Senior citizens, by a 47/42 margin, think gay marriage should continue to be outlawed. But when you take them out of the mix support for legalization moves to 53/38 in favor. As that generation is replaced more and more in the electorate by folks who are not yet of voting age public opinion will continue to move in favor of gay marriage.
It's almost two years until the 2012 election and a possible ballot initiative to eradicate Proposition 8 from California's Constitution. If the differential between those supporting legalization and those not in favor is now around 11%, just how much higher will it be on election day, 2012? I don't know for sure, but a 13% spread is not an unreasonable expectation. And that means no matter what kind of scare tactics NOM (National Organization for Marriage) employs, Proposition 8 will fall if its repeal is on the ballot.
Of course Proposition 8 may yet die by another cause. The California Supreme Court is expected to announce any day now whether it will rule on whether the Prop 8 Defendant-Intervenors have standing to contest Judge Walker's ruling from August of 2010 (yeah, it's that complicated!).
Complications aside, the bottom line is that if the California Supreme Court decides not to accept the case, most legal experts expect the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold Walker's ruling that Proposition 8 is federally unconstitutional -- by virtue of the fact that there is no one available to contest the ruling. Assuming the US Supreme Court refuses to hear the case on the same lack of standing basis, that would be the end of the road for Proposition 8.
If, instead, the CSC decides to rule on the case, observers of the court expect them to take many months, possibly an entire year, to settle the issue. That could easily push any ultimate decision from the US Supreme Court off until after the 2012 elections.
PPP's polling comes on the heels of other polls that have showed strong support for marriage equality in states that have the potential to enact it:
Delaware 2/9/11: 48% - 47%
Maryland 1/25/11: 51% - 44%
New York 1/18/11: 57% - 38%
New York 1/27/11: 56% - 37%
Rhode Island 7/22/10: 59% - 31%
Plus this just in off the wires:
New Hampshire 2/9/11: Repeal existing law 29%, Keep marriage equality: 62% !!
With a public firmly in support of marriage equality we can hope to see it come to pass in New York, Rhode Island and possibly Maryland and Delaware this year.
For an update on Delaware's effort see this blog.
For an update on Maryland, see yesterday's report.
For an update on New York, see this excellent lobbying day writeup.
In Rhode Island, the legislature will be holding hearings today.
And please help us spread the news about Delaware by visiting and reccing this diary by the Director of Delaware Right to Marry. We're getting there! Help spread the meme.