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Tilting at Windmills

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May 28, 2008
By: dday

GOOD NEWS FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY.... I know Kevin has been following the California same-sex marriage issue after the state Supreme Court tossed out Prop. 22. He's been gaming out scenarios for public support, and now we have enough data from early polling to get a real understanding of where we're at, 5 months out from a likely vote on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The LA Times poll from last week showed an electorate that supports, by anywhere from 55%-59%, the concept of a loving relationship between two people of the same gender, finding it not morally wrong. However, they also supported the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage by a count of 52%-35%.

But today's Field Poll, still considered the best pollster in the state despite some misses of late, finds that Californians both support the concept of gay marriage AND oppose the constitutional amendment.

By 51 to 42 percent, state voters believe gay couples have the right to marry, according to a May 17-26 poll of 1,052 registered voters [...]

In another Field Poll two years ago, state voters opposed gay marriage, 51 to 43 percent. DiCamillo said the recent shift may reflect both the presence of newer voters and a reaction to the state high court ruling.

"We had this historic ruling of the state Supreme Court, and people may have been persuaded," DiCamillo said. "We do see a shift. It looks like something happened to affect opinion."

The Field Poll asked two groups of voters differently worded questions on whether they would support a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Voters asked about "barring marriage between gay and lesbian couples" opposed a constitutional ban, 54 to 40 percent. Voters asked whether they favored or opposed "having the state constitution prohibit same-sex marriage," also opposed the ban, 51 to 43 percent.

The poll's findings, which track with the LA Times poll, show that this is a regional issue and a generational issue. The Central Valley, the most conservative part of the state, opposes gay marriage pretty strongly, while the coasts support it. And there's a large shift in support between those under 45 and over 45; in the Field poll, 68 PERCENT of voters between 18-29 favor same-sex marriage. So in the long-term, the people have made their decision. The question is whether enough voters in that bracket will come out on Election Day to cast a ballot. In addition, it seems like the biggest stumbling block for those who oppose gay marriage is the words "gay marriage"; they're OK with the concept in theory, if they are to be believed, but just can't get over the hump of seeing two men or two women as a married couple. So advocates working this campaign in the fall have to figure out how to create a way to make the swing voters more comfortable with voting on a conceptual and intellectual level rather than a visceral one. Overall, however, this looks very good for the marriage equality side.

dday 10:39 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Welcome to the 21st century California! We hope you enjoy your stay. This is great news. If not today, then in the future.

Those 18-29 year olds are going to finish growing up and then make their voices heard at the polls!

Posted by: Dave Buster on May 28, 2008 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

I hate all you gay loving idiots.

Look at the 10 comandments.

They clearly ban homosexual sex between men but appear to allow it between women.

Exodus 20: 17

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass...

Right there in the commandments.

thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's ASS.

I rest my case.

Posted by: neil wilson on May 28, 2008 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure the CA organizers are on top of this, since it was from a CA organizer in 2005 that I first heard the pro-gay-marriage pitch crafted specifically for (generally conservative) Hispanic voters:

"Do you want the state to tell your daughter who she can and can't marry?"

It might even work in Appalachia.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on May 28, 2008 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

There was a wingnut on the Newshour trying to make the case that teh Gey Marriage would make CA competitive for McCain.

I hope that McCain's strategists take that advice, so they piss away some of McCain's meagre dosh on an increasingly blue state.

Posted by: Sock Puppet of the Great Satan on May 28, 2008 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

@yellow_dog: That is the key. And to tie same-sex civil marriage to the history of California opening up the doors to loving couples. The California Supreme Court struck down miscegenation laws almost 2 decades before the U.S. Supreme Court did and that was directly because of Asian and Latino Americans civil rights activists.

Posted by: Christopher on May 28, 2008 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

You lefties are delusional if you think you can swindle Hispanics into voting for SSM. Hispanics might be pro-illegal, but are very Catholic.

Posted by: Freedom_Lover on May 28, 2008 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

By the time any popular initiatives reach the ballot next November -- and that's a big if -- thousands of same-sex couples will have been married and civilization will not have collapsed and, like in Massachusetts, most people will just shrug their shoulders and go on with life. And just like with race and civil rights, in 25 years, the conservatives who fought tooth and nail against gay marriage will be thinking of ways to make it look like they were on the right side of justice and history.

Posted by: jonas on May 28, 2008 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Somewhat off-topic, but Exxon, or eXXXon, had its annual shareholders’ meeting here in Dallas today.

Read more, with pictures, at my blog.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on May 28, 2008 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Catholics aren't as conservative on gay marriage as you might think. In CA, about evenly split. It's the evangelicals who are more ideological, more right-wing, and more solidly against.

Posted by: catholic on May 28, 2008 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

I am comforted by the poll. Polls do not take turnout into account, however. My contention is that 1)gay marriage excites the insane nazi right and 2)drives up turnout. The left had better gear up. This is gonna be a big one.

Posted by: POed Lib on May 28, 2008 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately the median voter is older than the median citizen, so we still have a battle on our hands.

But I think the thing that will help the most is that by November, we'll have thousands of actual married same-sex couples. Ad campaigns could feature couples that middle-of-the-road older folks would find non-threatening, for example, elderly couples who've been together 30 years or more and who finally marry, or older straight couples talking about how happy they are now that a brother or sister can marry, how they used to have a problem with homosexuality but their love for a sibling, and his/her happiness, was more important.

Posted by: Joe Buck on May 28, 2008 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

"...just can't get over the hump of seeing two men or two women as a married couple."

'hump' may not be the word you're looking for.

Posted by: thayer walker on May 28, 2008 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

"...just can't get over the hump of seeing two men or two women as a married couple."

'hump' may not be the word you're looking for.

Posted by: thayer walker on May 28, 2008 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

"It might even work in Appalachia."

With condescending attitudes like this, I see absolutely no problem persuading swing voters, fence sitters and undecideds. But hey it's probably not your freedom at stake plus you'll have the added benefit of keeping a rubes, rednecks and rethugs chestnut available for your high level discourse with the other enlighteneds.

Posted by: crankydwarf on May 28, 2008 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Here's hoping gay marriage proves to be a substantially better idea than heterosexual marriage, which is not only enervatingly stupid but has been shown to produce children.

Posted by: Hieronymus Braintree on May 28, 2008 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Any suggestions for organizations we can donate to who will be fighting the anti-equality initiative? It's good to see that this is a winnable fight, but we do still have to win it.

Posted by: Matt Austern on May 28, 2008 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

And what are all of you doing to enshrine equality in California? The bad guys will have tens of millions of dollars to spend between now and November. Will you help the good guys match that?

You don't have to be a lesbian or a gay man to join this battle. You don't have to live in California. But if you give a damn about equality, if you have a great desire to make the religious right unhappy, and if you have some plastic handy, jump over to equalityforall.com and join the battle. The future will thank you.

Posted by: K on May 28, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone wanting to donate some money to defeat the discriminatory, anti-gay ballot constitutional amendment that'll likely be on the November California ballot should try Equality California. Here's their website:


Californians can also sign up at Equality for All to get email updates (including, hopefully, volunteer opportunities to get your own body involved in this fight). Their website is here:


Finally, if you're a California resident, you can cast a phone "vote" on this issue, via Governor Schwarzenegger's automated voter input line. It only takes about 15 seconds to urge the governor to stand strong on his promise to oppose this anti-gay constitutional amendment. Here's how you cast your "vote" in support of the California Supreme Court's decision on marriage equality:

1. Call 1.916.445.2841
2. Press 1, 5, 1, 1
3. Yer done!

My (straight, white, nuclear) California family will be pounding the pavement this summer and fall to urge our neighbors to vote "no" on enshrining bigotry into our state constitution. I urge all y'all to join us!

Patrick Meighan
Culver City, CA

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on May 28, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

This is great.

I recall that on Kevin's last or next-to-last post about this, I wrote an optimistic comment, below a stack of at least 17 comments that didn't include one optimistic comment about the chances for success.

It goes to show that we shouldn't rush to do things that could hurt our own morale and own efforts via our own blogs.

Posted by: Swan on May 28, 2008 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Last time, what I specifically wrote was that even though one the gay marriage question we hadn't done well enough in polls in California before, maybe in the current atmosphere of dissatisfaction with conservativism, a lot of voters in California had occasion to re-think their opinions on issues like this since they are now experiencing not trusting the conservatives so much anymore, or, maybe just out of spite they would see things differently just to get back at the conservatives for everything wrong the conservatives have done recently.

It seemed unlikely to me when I wrote it that other liberals wouldn't also think the same thing, or at least have something else optimistic or encouraging to say. It really shows you that a lot of conservatives, if they wanted to, perhaps could (for instance) put a lot of discouraging comments on our blogs at key moments to hurt our efforts, similar to how they dispatch so-called "raiders" to switch registration and vote in Democratic primaries. Just a thought.

Posted by: Swan on May 28, 2008 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Last time, what I specifically wrote was that even though one the gay marriage question"

Should have been "on" not "one"

[On behalf of the other moderators and the readers, I would like to point out that we have a "preview" feature for comments. You might try using that and correcting your typos in the original instead of posting multiple corrections on every comment thread.]

Posted by: Swan on May 28, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

With condescending attitudes like this, I see absolutely no problem persuading swing voters, fence sitters and undecideds. But hey it's probably not your freedom at stake plus you'll have the added benefit of keeping a rubes, rednecks and rethugs chestnut available for your high level discourse with the other enlighteneds.

Posted by: crankydwarf on May 28, 2008 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Don't know where you live, cranky, but I'm pretty sure it's not within spitting distance of Appalachia, which is where I grew up and live now.

We southern/mountain liberals don't waste our time condescending to the racist/bigoted mouth-breathers who surround us; we get right in their faces and call them out for the racist/bigoted mouth-breathers they are.

Funny how they respect that a lot more than some yankee/coastal smartass trying to protect their delicate little redneck feelings.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on May 28, 2008 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

dday 1/17/2008 09:53:00 AM |:
I have to say that, of all the misunderstandings and misinterpretations and smears by surrogates and everything in this primary, the concerted strategy of disenfranchisement, a tactic at odds with the core values of the Democratic Party in the 21st century, is the most troubling. This is not a media creation or something blown out of proportion or the result of an emotional reading of the impact of race or gender. This is about the right to vote.
We have to make the right to vote sacrosanct. The defining feature of our political lives in this century is the Florida recount, and the voter suppression tactics used prior to Election Day. Republicans successfully manipulated the vote and mau-maued the media into defusing the controversy. There is no glory in any Democrat using the same tactic to win a primary or a general election.
But Obama has been a stalwart on voting rights; in fact, it's one of the rare moments in his Senate career where he boldly led.
Abrogating the right to vote in any form or fashion is not a road that Democrats should ever go down. The Obama campaign ...shouldn't want to get a victory that way.
UPDATE from dday: ... the point I was trying to make was that inclusion over exclusion should be the general rule.

...except when the excluded don't support my candidate, I guess.

Posted by: david on May 28, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom and equality at last! Now the door is opening for plural love, man-boy love, and interspecies love.

Posted by: Luther on May 28, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Don't worry, Luther.
Self-love will also be permitted.

Posted by: thersites on May 28, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

this will be interesting, and while I am no longer a californian, I will be looking for ways to help. Frankly, in think the anti-equality folks have been outplayed on this. Marriage is something easy to oppose in theory. Note all the states, some obstensibly liberal, that banned a hypothetical. Now you have to vote against a reality. That nice Ellen lady on the teevee, those adorable elderly couples crying as they finally be married after decades together, those blue collar guys, and yes, the fancy stereotypes. Sure, the hardcore nuts won't be moved, but just like in Mass, many people who opposed the concept won't want to deny someone's cousin, sister, daughter or uncle the right to make it legal. That's a swing of seven or eight points immediately, I figure. And in California, that should be enough, if we are diligent. One more fight, boys and girls, we need one more. If we win this, the tide will inoxerably turn.

Then we just have a DOMA challenge to win.

Posted by: Northzax on May 28, 2008 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

by the way. I issue a challenge to George Bush: you want a legacy? Use this as an excuse to issue an executive order making the military equal to most civilian employers. Your wife and daughter just gave Ellen wedding advice. Shock us all, prove you are a man and have some modicum of leadership. You literally have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Plus, you want your boy mccain to have a chance? Take this off the table, you are losing anyway.

Posted by: northzax on May 28, 2008 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

Coasts? How many coasts does California have these days?

Posted by: Paul Camp on May 28, 2008 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK



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