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Fact Sheet · July 2014

Californians’ Attitudes Toward Same-Sex Marriage

Sonja Petek

  • In the wake of the June 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision, support for same-sex marriage is at a new high.
    PPIC’s September 2013 statewide survey found that a record high 61% of Californians and 64% of likely voters favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry (34% of adults and 32% of likely voters oppose). Solid majorities of Californians (59%) and likely voters (63%) approve of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to let stand a lower court ruling on Proposition 8 that allows gay marriage in California.
  • Public opinion has undergone a reversal since 2000.
    In January 2000, the first time PPIC asked about legalizing same-sex marriage, 39% of Californians were in favor and 55% were opposed. In October 2008, just before the passage of Proposition 8 (which banned same-sex marriage), 44% were in favor of allowing gays and lesbians to marry. Support for same-sex marriage moved above 50% in 2010, and the margin of support has continued to grow. Support has risen 5 points since May 2013, just before the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling.
  • Since October 2008, support has risen by double digits among Democrats, independents, and Republicans.
    Although support for allowing same-sex marriage is still far higher among Democrats (76%, up 20 points since October 2008) and independents (67%, up 14 points), it has nearly doubled among Republicans (from 23% to 44%, with 53% opposed).
  • A majority of older Californians now favor allowing gay marriage; support is also up among other groups.
    For the first time, a majority of Californians age 55 and older favor allowing same-sex marriage (55% favor, 39% oppose)—a near reversal of opinion since October 2008 (34% favor, 58% opposed). Support for same-sex marriage has grown a considerable 15 points among younger Californians, age 18–34 (from 53% to 68%), and 13 points among those age 35–54 (from 45% to 58%). Majorities of women (66%, up 19 points) and men (55%, up 13 points) now support same-sex marriage. A majority of parents expressed opposition in 2008 (42% favor, 54% opposed), but now the reverse is true (53% favor, 42% oppose). There have been double-digit increases in support among Latinos (from 36% to 54%) and whites (from 50% to 65%).
  • Support is still highest in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, but it has risen in all regions.
    More than six in 10 residents in the San Francisco Bay Area (73%, up 15 points since 2008) and Los Angeles (64%, up 20 points) favor allowing same-sex marriage. In “other Southern California” (Orange, San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties), support has increased 14 points to 55% (42% oppose). Central Valley residents are divided on this issue (49% favor, 44% oppose), although support has grown 11 points since 2008.
  • Record shares of mainline Protestants and Catholics express support.
    A strong majority of mainline Protestants (70%, up 26 points since 2008) now favor allowing same-sex marriage and support has grown 17 points among Catholics (from 42% to 59%). Most evangelical Protestants (67%) remain opposed to same-sex marriage, although support has increased somewhat since 2008 (from 15% to 23%).
  • Similar trends in public opinion are evident nationwide.
    Same-sex marriage is now legal in the District of Columbia and 19 states; in 10 of these states it became legal after the June 2013 Supreme Court decision. In 12 additional states, court decisions in favor of same-sex marriage are being appealed. Growing acceptance among the public is reflected in numerous national polls: surveys by ABC News/Washington Post, Bloomberg, CBS News/New York Times, Gallup, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, and the Pew Research Center, among others, find majorities of adults in favor of allowing same-sex marriage.

Source:PPIC Statewide Surveys, January 2000–September 2013.


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