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Poll: Californians favor the freedom to marry

LOS ANGELES -- California is ready for the resumption of marriage for same-sex couples, Equality California announced today based on polling of likely voters showing 55% favor the freedom to marry, an increase of 18% since 2004.

Intensity of support has increased dramatically as well, with those who strongly favor the freedom to marry increasing from 24% to 42% over the same time period. (Poll documentation can be found HERE.

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule later this month on Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment that banned marriage for same-sex couples in California, and the polling conducted by David Binder Research shows that Californians are ready and eager for marriages to resume.

“California is ready for every loving couple to be able to marry, and we are hopeful that the Supreme Court will rule to restore the freedom to marry,” said John O’Connor, EQCA executive director. “Our new polling shows support for the freedom to marry is strong and broad, and continues to grow.”

The polling of 800 likely voters throughout the state shows significant increases in support in nearly every demographic, including Republicans, voters aged 45 to 64, African-Americans and Latinos.

In 2011, 31% of Californians strongly favored the freedom to marry, while 36% strongly opposed. The new polling shows 42% strongly favor, with 31% strongly opposed. The poll has a margin of error of 3.5%.

The poll also showed that talking to friends and family about the importance of marriage is a powerful tool for moving opinion. Those who have had a conversation with someone they know personally about why marriage for same-sex couples is important favor marriage by 73% to 26%; those who haven’t had a personal conversation about it favor marriage by 45% to 41%, a net increase in support of 43%.

“The simple act of having a conversation with a person directly impacted makes such a huge difference in humanizing our community and building support for equality,” O’Connor said. “It is literally a game-changer for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, and you see that in the numbers.”

EQCA is a proud member of The Breakthrough Coalition, a broad and diverse coalition of over 20 LGBT advocacy organizations that uses cutting-edge research to facilitate persuasive, one-on-one conversations about the freedom to marry. The coalition has been training staff and volunteers statewide for over two years to build public support in favor of marriage for same-sex couples.

EQCA has been a leader in the push for same-sex marriage in California for over a decade, and was a sponsor of the nation’s first same-sex marriage bill approved by a legislative body (AB 849, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, authored by Assemblymember Mark Leno, D-San Francisco) in 2005. In 2006, EQCA started the Let California Ring public education campaign aimed at swaying public opinion in support of the freedom to marry. On behalf of its members, EQCA was the organizational plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging California’s marriage laws that exclude same-sex couples. The California Supreme Court on May 15, 2008 ruled that all Californians have the freedom to marry. The landmark decision ended the state ban on marriage for same-sex couples. Same-sex couples were able to marry as of June 16, 2008 for 173 days until voters approved Proposition 8, a ballot measure banning marriage for same-sex couples. EQCA was a major contributor and organizational leader to the NO on 8 campaign to defeat the ban on same-sex marriage. In addition, EQCA filed an amicus brief in the case that is now before the Supreme Court.