In the state's continuing political battles over gay marriage, both sides are targeting Latino voters, and a new Los Angeles Times poll illustrates why.
Overall, the poll showed a majority of voters in Los Angeles support the right of same-sex couples to legally marry, with 56% in favor and 37% opposed. That finding closely tracked results of November's election, when Proposition 8, which limited marriage to a man and a woman, won statewide but lost in Los Angeles.
But the poll also showed that within the city, views on the issue differed widely among racial and ethnic groups.
White voters were most emphatic in supporting same-sex marriage, with 68% approving of it and 27% opposing. African American voters were almost the opposite, with 54% opposing same-sex unions and 37% supporting them. Opposition to gay marriage by African Americans was widely seen as a major factor contributing to the passage of Proposition 8.
In the current poll, Latinos were split, with 45% supporting same-sex marriage and 46% opposing. Within the Latino population, there were additional divisions: Women, the young and people with a college education offered more backing for it than men, older voters and those with less education.
Since the passage of Proposition 8, political analysts have suggested that statewide support for same-sex marriage is only a matter of time, and the poll offered support for that idea. Among Los Angeles voters, support for it grew consistently stronger as the age of respondents decreased.
Among those ages 18-29, 66% said same-sex marriages should be recognized as valid, while 29% disagreed. The percentage of support declined slightly with each increment of age; those ages 50 to 64 supported it by a narrower 55%-39% margin.
The only voters to oppose same-sex marriage were those older than 64. In that group, 43% supported legalizing same-sex marriage while 48% were opposed.
The poll was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research in conjunction with Public Opinion Strategies, both based in Washington, D.C., for the Times. The poll questioned 1,500 registered voters in Los Angeles from June 10 to 16. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.
See how legal rights for gay couples have changed in the U.S. since 2000. Coming Sunday and Monday: more poll results, including approval ratings for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the LAPD.