Marriage equality, revisited: Two years after Proposition 8, California sees changing opinions

Posted by Ann M. Simmons on

"If a vote similar to Proposition 8 upholding a ban on the freedom to marry were held tomorrow, a majority of Californians say they would cast ballots in favor of allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, according to a survey released last week.

"The poll was conducted in English and Spanish by the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Public Religion Research Institute, an organization focused on religion and values. It was based on random phone interviews with more than 3,300 Californians over a two-week period in late June, examining the religious-based attitudes toward marriage equality two years after Proposition 8 was approved.

"The survey comes as California awaits a decision from a U.S. district court judge on whether Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution. The survey also included views toward gays and lesbians adopting children, openly serving in the military and workplace discrimination against homosexuals.

"One in four Californians reported that their views on rights for gay and lesbian people had become more supportive over the last five years, or three times as many as the 8% who said they had become more opposed, the poll revealed.

"Meanwhile, 29% of Californians polled said they believed Proposition 8 was bad for the state, compared with 22% who believed it was “a good thing.”

"A total of 51% of Californians said they would vote to allow homosexuals to marry if a vote similar to Proposition 8 were held tomorrow, compared with 45% who said they would vote to keep the freedom to marry illegal, the survey showed.

“'We have some good evidence here of the way the wind is blowing … in a more positive direction for the rights of gays and lesbians,' said Robert P. Jones, chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute.

"The poll highlighted shifting attitudes within the black community, divisions among Latinos, the influence of the clergy on parishioners and insights into the role of religion in shaping the Proposition 8 debate.

"Among religious groups, ethnic minorities showed slightly more overall attitudinal changes than white religious groups, Jones said.

... "Jones said clergy played a strong role in influencing views on gay rights, since messages about homosexuality propagated at places of worship proved to correlate with parishioners' views on marriage equality.

"For example, among Californians who reported hearing negative messages from their clergy, only 19% said they supported marriage for same-sex couples, and nearly half rejected legal recognition of the relationships between gay couples.

"In contrast, among Californians who heard positive messages at their places of worship, six in 10 said marriages between same-sex couples should be allowed.

"An additional 22% said they supported civil unions, and only 18% opposed legal recognition of unions of same-sex couples, according to the survey.

“'The role of religion is very helpful in clarifying the landscape,' Jones said."


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