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Support for marriage equality hits all-time high in CA as Prop 8 case deadline looms for Obama

Briefs Marriage equality Prop 8 Prop 8 trial Supreme Court

By Jacob Combs

A new Field poll released today finds that California voters favor marriage equality by a 61 percent to 32 percent margin, with an increase in support among all age groups and ethnic groups and also in all areas of the state, the Sacramento Bee reports.

“The dynamic that has occurred in the last three years kind of spans all populations,” Mark DiCamillo, the poll’s director, told the Bee. “It’s almost as if it’s a societal change.”

The Field poll’s results found a dramatic increase in support for equal marriage rights since 2010, with a 10 percentage point increase in approval.  Democrats and nonpartisan voters favor marriage equality by an identical 71-25 percent split (an increase for nonpartisans of 19 percent over the last three years) and while Republicans remain opposed to equal marriage rights with 39 percent approving and 53 percent disapproving, their support has nevertheless increased 13 percentage points since 2010.

A remarkable 78 percent of respondents aged 18 to 39 support marriage equality, as do 56 percent of those aged 40 to 64.  While a majority of respondents older than 65 does not favor equal marriage rights, a plurality of 48 percent does, with 44 percent disapproving.

Women in California are more likely to support same-sex couples’ marriage rights, although a majority of men do as well.  A majority of the state’s Latinos support marriage equality, as do a majority of its Catholics.  Support is highest in the Bay Area, but is strong in Los Angeles County and in other regions around the state as well.

The propitious timing of the Field poll’s release on the same day that Supreme Court briefs in support of the legal challenge against Prop 8 are due demonstrates that California is ready for marriage equality.  Obviously, a Supreme Court decision restoring marriage rights to California’s same-sex couples would be the best and quickest route to equality in the state, but if the Court were to uphold Prop 8, a campaign to repeal the constitutional amendment would seem likely to start out with a significant advantage.

Writing in Metro Weekly, Justin Snow yesterday raised the question, “Where are Congressional Democrats on Prop 8?”  Snow noted that House and Senate Democrats have been clear in their opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act, but while party leaders have spoken out against Prop 8 in the past, they have yet to file a friend of the court brief arguing that such marriage bans violate the U.S. Constitution.

And, of course, the biggest question today is whether President Obama will weigh in on the constitutionality of Prop 8 and marriage equality bans in general.  It seems highly unlikely that Obama and his Justice Department will sit out the case entirely, especially after the news that over 100 high-profile Republicans plan to file their own brief arguing in favor of marriage equality.  Check back throughout the day for updates on the briefs that are filed in the case–it could end up being quite an interesting news day!

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