April 30, 2004


Despite hoopla, most Californians oppose gay marriage (Dan Walters, April 30, 2004, Sacramento Bee)

When the Assembly Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would have granted full marriage rights to same-sex couples on an 8-3 vote, absolutely no one in the Capitol was surprised.

The eight Democrats who voted for the bill in committee are - like most of the Legislature's Democrats - unabashed liberals, and gay rights is a bedrock tenet of the California Democratic Party. Given its makeup, it would have been surprising only if the committee hadn't backed the measure.

The Los Angeles Times' chief pollster, however, read something into the vote that no one else saw. "This action shows just how more tolerant Californians are in supporting gay issues and more specifically, same-sex marriage, as compared to the rest of the country," Times pollster Susan Pinkus said in an analysis of the committee vote and a concurrent poll of Californians on the issue.

It was a completely fact-free conclusion, as demonstrated by the Times poll's own numbers. The survey found that just 31 percent of Californians favored gay marriage and while that number is marginally higher than the national support for gay marriage (about 25 percent in a previous Times poll), it's a long way from a majority. Indeed, were the Judiciary Committee representing popular will, it would have reversed itself and voted against San Francisco Assemblyman Mark Leno's bill by the same 8-3 margin.

The Times poll's latest findings, moreover, do not show any popular improvement for gay marriage advocates since a 2000 election in which California voters approved a measure that denies official recognition to same-sex weddings. The measure, sponsored by Republican Sen. Pete Knight, garnered 61.4 percent of the vote, while 38.6 percent of voters opposed it; one could even conclude, in fact, that the pro-gay marriage position has lost ground since 2000.

Those are the political numbers and they appear to be immutable; Californians, by a wide margin, still oppose the concept of allowing same-sex couples to marry. Whether that's the correct position is an entirely different issue. One could muster a strong argument for gay marriage on grounds of simple logic and equity, and popular sentiment may well change in the years ahead, but politics happen in real time and are not grounded in philosophical theory. And by pushing the issue, gay rights advocates and their political allies may be setting themselves up for a big backlash.

Can't talk about 9-11 or the war or the economy and moral issues are poison--how's John Kerry lookin'?

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 30, 2004 6:19 PM

Now you see why we California conservatives are so ill-tempered. By and large, our citizens aren't much to the left of the rest of the country, yet as voters, we'd send Fidel Castro to Sacramento if he promised us free day care!

Posted by: Dave Sheridan at May 1, 2004 1:07 AM