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Field Poll on gay marriage: Have the people changed their minds?

May 29, 2008 |  4:54 pm

Field poll indicates Californians approve of California Supreme Court ruling striking down gay marriage banLast week's Dust-Up on the future of gay marriage drew many comments from three groups of objectors to the California Supreme Court's ending of the ban on same-sex marriage: Those who quoted Bible passages, those who suggested people start marrying their pets, and those outraged that the court had subverted "the will of the people." Glen Lavy made the case for the people's will on Day 1 of the weeklong debate, though many commenters brought up the counterexample of Jim Crow.

But opponents of gay marriage could be finding themselves on the wrong side of vox populi. According to a Field Poll released yesterday, a majority of Californians now favor giving rights to same-sex couples — and oppose a ban on gay marriage. A Times/KTLA survey conducted earlier this month suggested a somewhat different political climate, but if the will of these "people" we keep hearing about is in fact shifting, that would be bad news for opponents, who are looking to put another ban on the November ballot.

The Sacramento Bee points to explanations for this dramatic shift in opinion, and an LA Times profile on conservative Chief Justice Ronald M. George helps explain what swayed the court:

... as he read the legal arguments, the 68-year-old moderate Republican was drawn by memory to a long ago trip he made with his European immigrant parents through the American South. There, the signs warning "No Negro" or "No colored" left "quite an indelible impression on me," he recalled in a wide-ranging interview Friday.

Tim Rutten cites the rising tide of the youth vote, drawn away from their iPods by the baritone of Barack Obama. Perhaps, in a very race-conscious political season, the comparisons to the state court's ruling 60 years ago striking down laws banning interracial marriage — a decision in direct conflict with popular opinion — had a hand in it.

What do you think caused the shift? Post your thoughts below. And, just to see how Opinion L.A. readers break down:

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