California Gay Marriage Support Rises to Record in Poll

Support for legalizing same-sex marriage in California has reached a record high as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to rule on the state’s ban next month.

Fifty-six percent of adults favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed, with 38 percent against, the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California said late today.

“The more that there’s been acceptable and legal change in other states, the more Californians have been accepting, especially among some of those groups that were strongly opposed,” Mark Baldassare, the group’s president, said by telephone.

The Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of Proposition 8, a California ballot measure passed by voters in 2008 that bans same-sex unions. The court is scheduled to rule by the end of June, when its nine-month term ends. The high court is also weighing the 1996 U.S. Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents the federal government from recognizing gay marriages.

Approval of same-sex nuptials has almost reversed since 2000, when the institute said its first survey on the subject showed 39 percent in favor and 55 percent against. Support reached 50 percent in March 2010. A poll in January found gay unions favored by 53 percent to 41 percent opposed.

Republican approval has doubled to 46 percent from 23 percent in October 2008, the latest survey said.

More than 18,000 same-sex couples got marriage licenses in California in the five months between the state Supreme Court’s ruling that gay marriages were legal and the passage of Proposition 8, which effectively overturned that decision.

Twelve states and the District of Columbia have approved same-sex marriage.

The San Francisco-based organization surveyed 1,704 adults by telephone May 14-20. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

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