Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New California Poll Shows Strong Support for Equality

The most recent Field Poll finds a big increase in support for marriage equality among Californians. When Proposition 8 was passed in 2008 polls show very slim support for marriage equality: only 51% of voters favored the idea. At the ballot box, after a long, extremely dishonest campaign conducted by the National Organization for (sic) Marriage, the final vote was 52% against and 48% in favor of marriage equality. This was within the standard error rate for a poll of that size. Marriage equality polled 3 points below the best polling guess of 51%, but the error rate was 4.5%.

The newest Field Poll, however, shows support that is significant enough that equality would pass even if the entire error rates goes against supporting the measure. The current polls shows that 59% of voters approve of the idea, that is up 8 points since Proposition 8 passed. When these question was first asked in 1977 support stood at 28%. Opposition stood at a high in 1985 when 62% of voters opposed the idea. Today 34% oppose the idea.

Democrats support marriage equality 69% to 25%; independent voters support by 67% to 25%; and Republicans oppose the measure 55% to 39%. This shows some substantial changes since 2010. In the last two years support for equality increased by 1 percentage point among Democrats. Among Republicans the jump was 13 points, from 36% to 39%. Independents increased their support from 52% to 67%, an increase of 15 points. Even among self-identified conservatives support has increased from 20% to 30%.

Support has also increased among all age groups. Voters 18-39 support equality by 69%, which is up 8 points since 2010. Voters 50-65 support equality by 59%, up 13 points. And those 65 and older are now evenly split 45% to 45%, an increase of 3 points in the last two years.

Sixty percent of women support marriage equality while 58% of men do. A majority of white voters, 64%, support equality. Among Latino voters support is 53% and among Black voters and other minorities it 50% support.

Non-Christian believers support equality by 85%, the second highest level of support is from those with no religious preferences, 80%. Among Catholics 51% support equality and all Protestants are divided 45% in favor, 49% opposed, but I suspect if you broke this down you would find strong support in the more educated protestant sects and low support among the less-educated fundamentalists.

If voters are offered three choices: marriage, civil unions, or no legal representation, the support for legal recognition rises to 80% of the voters (51% for marriage, 29% for civil unions) with only 15% saying they want no legal representation whatsoever—which seems be to the position of the Republican Party.

Once again, polls indicate that young voters and independent voters are taking a libertarian position. This trend, across numerous issues, implies that these two groups in particular have been moving in a libertarian direction for some years.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Proposition 8 is Invalid, Appeals Court Rules

Today the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Proposition 8, which stripped gay couples of the right to marry, is invalid and in violation of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.

A synopsis of the ruling itself can be found at our main blog site.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Marriage equality moves ahead in New Jersey.

New Jersey is moving toward marriage equality and Republican Governor Chris Christie says that the voters would ratify if put a referendum.

Christie has been an opponent, but the feelings of this observer is that he is a reluctant opponent, shackled by the Religious Right of his own party. Christie's own sentiments, I suspect are more tolerant as indicated by his recent appointment of a black, gay man to the state Supreme Court.

Christie said: "The polls that I've seen show that if this goes to the ballot, I lose."

Recently the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a bill legalizing same-sex marriage to the Senate for a vote. Previously the Senate rejected the measure but several legislator have had a change of mind and the bill is expected to pass.

Christie says he will veto the bill and has asked legislators to pass a bill sending it to the voters—a favored way for cowardly legislators to avoid taking responsibility for their own postions.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Washington Senate Passes Marriage Equality

Today the Washington state Senate passed SB6239 which deregulated marriage to allow same-sex couples to enter marriage contracts. Republicans tried to delay by peppering the bill with proposed amendment, including one that said that legal officials who dislike same-sex marriage don't have to do their job. That one failed. Oddly, Republicans routinely decry marriage equality legislation, claiming it takes up important time for "important" issues. Yet, when they face such legislation they intentionally try to drag it out as long as possible, taking up yet even more time.

Republican  Don Benton chimed in claiming that marriage legislation is like gravity. Apparently he has grandiose visions of what legislation does. Contract laws, such as marriage contracts, are no the equivalent of gravity by any means. The pompous Benton said that "the great citizens of state" should decide if minorities have rights or not. But it was pointed out that when the legislature had previously banned same-sex marriages there was no demand by Republicans that the voters decide. (True, Republican support for referendums is not a matter of principle—whatever system is most likely to give them powers over the lives of others is what they seek.)

Republican Dan Swecker claimed the legislation will silence opponents to marriage equality. Of course, this is why there is no vocal opposition to equal rights in places like Iowa or New Hampshire, because same-sex marriage magically causes muteness among the bigoted. Democrat Jim Hargrove said he would vote against equal rights because his religion demands it. I guess he missed the part of swearing to uphold the Constitution and thought they said "uphold your church's theology" instead.

Sen. Steve Hobbs, said he was voting yes though he doesn't think his conservative district will like it. Hobbs said he served in the military with gay men and does so now in the National Guard. He said those soldiers were willing "to take a bullet for me" and that he didn't believe he could look them in the eye and tell them he voted against their equal rights. He said: "I will never leave a comrade behind."

The chief sponsor of the bill, Sen. Ed Murray, told the senators that no matter how they voted, he would invited them to his wedding to his partner, Michael Shiosaki when he was finally free to marry.

In the end the vote was 28 to 21, a comfortable margin for the legislation. Two additional Republicans voted to pass the bill. The antigay National Organization for (sic) Marriage had promised to spend $250,000 to defeat any Republican who dared vote for individual rights and liberty. This means they are on the hook for $1 million in extra spending in the state, if they remain true to their word. Given that they are having to spend huge sums in New York to defeat pro-freedom Republicans there, and the battles they are funding in Minnesota, Maine, Maryland, Iowa, New Hampshire and state-wide efforts in Washington, it will be an expensive year for bigotry.

A comfortable majority in the state House already has signed on to support the legislation and it is expected to pass there next week with the governor promising to sign the legislation. Religious bigots promise to repeal the measure and strip gay couples of their equal rights.

Meanwhile, it appears strongly likely that Maryland will also pass marriage equality in a short time.

Republicans in New Hampshire are trying to reimpose regulations on marriage to restrict it to a privileged class of heterosexuals only. Even the fraudulent Republican Liberty Caucus is joining in the call for more government control of marriage.