Gay Marriage,  Gay Politics

Poll Watch: Gay Marriage Evenly Splits Californians – Tough Race in 2010

gay marriage march 5

Kate Kuykendall (R) and her wife Tori Kuykendall (L) stand with their daughter during a gay rights rally against the Proposition 8 measure at the El Pueblo de Los Angeles park, March 5, 2009.

The latest California Field Poll shows it continues to be a difficult issue for California registered voters.

California voters are as sharply divided over gay marriage as they were in November when they approved Proposition 8, overturning a state Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriages.

Voters passed Proposition 8, which declared marriage could only be between a man and a woman, 52 percent to 48 percent.

A new Field Poll showed 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.

Last week, the state Supreme Court heard arguments in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8. From questions asked by the seven justices, court watchers concluded the court is likely to uphold Proposition 8 but also allow to stand the 18,000 same-sex marriages performed after the court’s original ruling in May and the November election.

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.

It is likely that the California Supreme Court will PUNT on the issue of gay marriage in the coming weeks. By PUNT, Flap means that the court will uphold California Proposition 8 restoring the traditional definition of marriage – while on the other hand allowing the same sex marriages already completed to remain valid.

What will this mean for gay politics in 2010 – a Governor’s election year?

Dan Walters has an accurate description of the conventional wisdom on a California electoral outcome.

It will be a gamble for gay marriage proponents to come before California voters again in 2010.

Will homosexual activists roll the dice?

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