Robert P. Jones and Daniel Cox
Special to CNN
Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Robert P. Jones and Daniel Cox. Dr. Robert P. Jones is the CEO and Daniel Cox is the Director of Research for Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and education organization specializing in work at the intersection of religion, values, and public life.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/08/05/art.vert.prop8.graph2.jpg caption="The survey was conducted among a random sample of Californians by telephone between June 14 and June 30, 2010, by the Public Religion Research Institute." width=292 height=320]
The ruling yesterday by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker that Proposition 8 violates the constitution highlights the shifting attitudes in California and in the nation over the legality of same-sex marriage. A major public opinion survey released last month by our firm, Public Religion Research Institute, casts important light on the changing religious landscape on this issue, with some surprising findings.
The PRRI survey of more than 3,000 Californians found that if Proposition 8 were on the ballot today, it would not pass.
A majority (51 percent) of Californians now say they would vote to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, compared to 45 percent who say they would vote to keep same-sex marriage illegal.
Despite the fact that the debate over same-sex marriage is often framed as one between secular liberals and conservative people of faith, we found that there are major religious groups on both sides of the battle over Proposition 8 in California. Solid majorities of Latino Catholics and white mainline Protestants, along with a majority of white Catholics, say they would vote to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. On the other hand, solid majorities of African American Protestants, white evangelical Protestants, and Latino Protestants say they would vote to keep same-sex marriage illegal.
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