Tuesday, March 10, 2009

FIELD POLL: Same-Sex Marriage Is Still a Divisve Issue

The most recent California Field Poll shows that, if there were another vote today to decide whether or not to allow same-sex marriage in the state, it would be a dead heat, showing that the LGBT community and its allies still have a lot of work ahead of them.

The poll shows voters almost evenly split, 48 percent to 47 percent, when asked if they would approve a new constitutional amendment to again allow same-sex couples to marry. It's a dead heat when one factors in the 3.5 percent margin of error. (See field poll at bottom of post)

When asked if they supported marriage over civil unions, forty-five percent said same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. Thirty-four percent favored civil unions and 19 percent said gay and lesbian couples should not receive any state recognition. Only two percent of those polled had no opinion.

From The San Diego Union-Tribune:

A coalition of gay-rights groups have filed an initiative aimed at the 2010 ballot to make same-sex marriages legal again.

Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo said that while Californians are dramatically more supportive of same-sex marriages than they were a few decades ago, he questioned whether attitudes would be much different in 2010 than they were in 2008.

He noted that gubernatorial elections always have smaller voter turnouts than presidential elections and that younger voters most supportive of same-sex marriage are also among the least reliable voters.

“If you bring this to an election, turnout really does matter,” DiCamillo said. “Which groups turn out a little bit more and which ones turn out a little bit less have a big effect on the outcome.”

A second difficulty, the pollster said, is that an amendment reinstating same-sex marriage would require a “yes” vote whereas Proposition 8 required a “no” vote to preserve gay marriages.

“The thing that works against the advocates' position is now they've got to get a 'yes' vote which is harder to get than a 'no' vote,” DiCamillo said.

Acceptance of same-sex marriage in California has grown steadily over the years.

When registered voters were asked by the Field Poll how they feel about allowing same-sex couples to marry and have regular marriage laws apply to them, 49 percent approved to 44 percent who disapproved.

Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee puts it more bluntly:

". . . whether a pro-gay marriage measure would pass in 2010 is very uncertain. But the Field Institute polled registered voters, not likely voters, because it's much too early to determine the latter, and who actually votes in 2010 will depend on the dynamics of that election.

It could be argued that gay rights groups had their best shot in 2008 as they sought to defeat Proposition 8 and allow an earlier Supreme Court decision, validating same-sex marriage, to stand. It was an extremely high-turnout presidential election in which Democrats dominated from the White House down.

It's likely that 2010's voter turnout will be millions of voters smaller and somewhat less liberal than the 2008 electorate, although it's not certain yet whether a pro-gay marriage measure would be on the June primary ballot, whose turnout would be even lower, or on the November general election ballot.

If the Supreme Court were to uphold Proposition 8 and gay rights groups were to seek a 2010 measure, only to lose again, their cause could be stalled for many years."

We need to be sure that doesn't happen.


Same-Sex Marriage Field Poll 3/10/09

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