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Poll: 59% of Californians favor marriage equality, the highest level ever

Support for marriage equality in California has hit its highest level ever, according to a new statewide poll.

The Field Poll shows that 59% of Californians now favor marriage equality, while 34% disapprove. The 25-point gap is the largest measure of support since the Field Poll began asking the question more than 30 years ago.

In 2010, the poll showed that 51% of Californians supported marriage for gay and lesbian couples, while 42% didn't.

This shows a marked contrast to the Proposition 8 election in 2008 when Californians voted 52% to 48% to take away marriage equality in the Golden State.

"With 59% of Californians now in favor of marriage equality, including nearly half of those over 60, the writing is on the wall," said Rick Jacobs, chair and founder of the Courage Campaign, a progressive, online, grassroots organization with more than 750,000 members nationwide. "The public clearly believes that gay and lesbian couples are no different than their straight counterparts. We love, have families and build community as do all caring people.

"This poll is a caution to the right wing that leads the Republican Party today. Even as [Mitt] Romney, [Rick] Santorum and [Newt] Gingrich fight to be king of the anti-gay hill, the winner may discover he's king of an ant hill," Jacobs said.

Meanwhile, the legal battle over Prop 8 continues to linger in the courts. Although a district court judge ruled that Prop 8 is unconstitutional on Aug. 4, 2010, and a three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals backed that ruling on Feb. 7, 2012, the Prop 8 case has been sent for a full review by the appeals court because proponents didn't like the results of the two rulings.

The poll results

The new Field Poll showed a dramatic increase in support for marriage equality by Republicans, a result not reflected by the GOP presidential candidates. 39% of Republicans support marriage equality, up from 26% in 2010. Still, 55% of Republicans do not approve marriage equality in 2012, compared to 66% in 2010.

There was also a big upswing among nonpartisan and other political parties. 67% of them now are in favor, up from 52% in 2010. Those who disapprove dropped from 38% in 2010 to 25% in 2012.

Democrats favor marriage equality 69% to 25%, compared to 68% to 27% in 2010.

By race and ethnicity, 64% of whites (up from 53% in 2010), 53% of Latinos (up from 50%) and 50% of African-Americans, Asian-Americans and other groups (up from 41%). Those who disapprove dropped to 30% of whites (39% in 2010), 38% of Latinos (41%) and 46% for other groups (51%).

By religion, marriage equality was favored by 45% of Protestants (up from 34% in 2010), 51% of Catholics (47%), 85% other religions (75%) and 80% by those with no religious preference (77%).

By marital status, 71% of single people and those never marriage support marriage equality, up from 67% in 2010. Those separated, divorced or widowed agree by 58% (46% in 2010). And those married are supportive by 55% (46% in 2010).