Poll finds 58 percent of Calif. voters now support legalizing same-sex marriage

Marriage advocates rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court

Marriage advocates rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court

LOS ANGELES — While the U.S. Supreme Court prepares its decision on the constitutionality of Proposition 8, California‘s 2008 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, a new poll finds that a majority of California voters now support marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples.

According to the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll released Monday, 58 percent of the state’s registered voters believe same-sex marriage should be legal, compared with 36% against, a margin of 22 points.

Marriage advocates rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court

When the same pollsters asked that question three years ago, 52 percent favored gay marriage and 40 percent opposed it, a 12-point spread.

The poll indicates that attitudes in the state toward gay marriage have changed significantly since voters approved Proposition 8 by a vote of 52 – 48 percent.

“There has been movement across the board” in favor of same-sex marriage, said Dave Kanevsky, research director of the American Viewpoint, a Republican polling firm that helped conduct the survey. “Every group has moved.”

Seniors in particular are shifting toward support of same-sex marriage, the poll also found.

Californians over the age of 65 are now evenly split on the matter, with 47 percent opposed and 46 percent for legalization — an 11 point jump in favor of same-sex marriage from the March 2010 USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll, which found 53 percent opposed and 35 percent of seniors in favor.

According to the latest poll, voters age 18 to 29 show the highest levels of support for the issue, with 76-21 percent in favor.

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“There’s been an assumption for four years that support for same-sex marriage is driven by demographics, and there’s no question that we see much stronger support among younger voters than older voters,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at USC.

“But that level of support among older voters is extremely important,” he said. “What the shift among older voters shows is that this isn’t just a generational change, but that a whole cohort of voters is actually changing their position on the issue.”

The results are consistent with a poll released late last month by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, which found 56 percent of voters support legalizing same-sex marriage, compared to 38 percent opposed.

The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll also surveyed voters on a proposal for California schools to allow transgender students the ability to participate on sports teams and to use bathrooms that correspond with the gender they most identify with, not their sex at birth.

Californians were split on the proposal, with 46 percent opposed to the idea and 43 percent in favor.

More on the poll is here and here.

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