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Gay marriage backers excited about poll showing wider support

March 1, 2012 | 11:51 am

Poll shows increased voter support for gay marriage
Backers of gay marriage in California said they feel buoyed by a new poll showing increased voters' support of same-sex unions.

Jeff Prang, mayor pro tem of West Hollywood, is not surprised Californians increasingly support gay marriage.

A new Field Poll released Wednesday found respondent approval of same-sex marriage is at its highest level ever recorded in the 35 years Californians have been polled on the issue.

The new poll found that 59% of respondents favored gay marriage, while 34% opposed it.

"I think people have a tendency to be fair in terms of providing equality to their neighbors, not less so," said Prang, who is gay. "I would have been really surprised if the numbers would have gone the other direction and people had gotten more hateful."

In West Hollywood, more than a third of the residents are gay. Of the city's five city council members, four are gay men.

When a panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Proposition 8 last month, West Hollywood Mayor John Duran said California could be "back in the business of marrying."

The Field Poll shows support of gay marriage has risen since Californians in 2008 approved Proposition 8, which banned same-sex unions in the state. That year, 51% of respondents approved of gay marriage, while 42% disapproved.

Prang married in 2008 during the few months when same-sex marriages were legal in California. There has been a "tremendous amount of incremental change" in the fight for gay rights, especially among younger generations that are more tolerant, he said.

"I'm pleased at how quickly things have progressed and how the American people have changed in such a short period of time," he said.

When the Field Poll began questioning Californians about same-sex marriage in 1977, 28% of respondents approved, and 59% disapproved.

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-- Hailey Branson-Potts

twitter.com/haileybranson

Photo: A new Field Poll found approval of same-sex marriage is at its highest level ever recorded in the 35 years Californians have been polled on the issue. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

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