By a relatively narrow margin, Californians remain opposed to same-sex marriages but are more solidly against an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning the weddings, according to the nonpartisan Field Poll, which released the findings Thursday. The poll showed that 50% of Californians oppose same-sex marriages, while 44% support them.
But when it comes to a constitutional amendment banning such unions, which President Bush advocated on Tuesday, the survey of registered voters showed that a solid majority are opposed, 55% to 40%. The poll was conducted before Bush's announcement. "It's a fairly big deal to change the U.S. Constitution," said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll. "There are true conservatives that don't want to tamper with the Constitution. Some voters may be opposed to same-sex marriages but aren't willing to change the U.S. Constitution."
The support for same-sex marriage has remained relatively constant over the past six months, despite the heavy publicity generated by San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom's decision to hand out more than 3,300 marriage licenses to gay couples in the past two weeks. But the long-term trend in California clearly is moving in favor of same-sex marriage. Approval has risen 16 percentage points since the Field Poll first asked the question in 1977, while opposition has dropped from 59% to 50%.
Approval rates also vary depending on the age of respondents, with voters between the ages of 18 and 29 showing 58% support, and those 65 and older showing 26% support--another sign of the growing acceptance. "The majority of Californians in the future will likely approve of same-sex marriage if the current trends hold," DiCamillo said.