Supporters of gay marriage got a boost this week as a Field Poll released on February 29 revealed that nearly 60 percent of registered voters in California support the movement, the highest percentage ever in 35 years of recorded history. This is an eight percent jump from just two years ago when a 2010 poll showed that 51 percent approved.
This poll comes at a crucial moment when the fight for gay rights is becoming more heated across the United States. With Washington state legalizing marriage for gays and Maryland’s governor set to sign his own approval this Thursday, things are looking positive. This comes in light of outrage by gay marriage opponents like Rick Santorum, who said he would go so far as to pursue a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and break up all currently married couples.
While such news is heartening, Rebekah Orr of Equality California pointed out that such information should be taken with a grain of salt. She mentioned that the poll was taken by registered voters, but not necessarily likely voters. “We conducted a poll of likely voters in September, and found the results to be around 51 in favor and 44 opposed,” she said.
It’s definitely important to use this news as momentum, not a reason to sit back comfortably and celebrate. There is much work ahead in the fight for equality, and opponents won’t make it easy. Some people thoroughly enjoy living in the past and doing their best to fight the inevitable; this was shown by Prop 8 opponents who pursued appeal after appeal even after the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals found it unconstitutional.
Opponents of gay rights will not be content without the ability to live other people’s lives for them, but public opinion is definitely shifting toward a more open-minded view of gay rights in general. Approval in 1977 was a mere 28 percent, but today has risen to double that, and it looks like that trend will only continue.