In 2008, 57.7% of Orange County voters
supported Proposition 8
, the law banning gay marriage.
Also, 74% of residents support the repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell, marking a 12% rise since a similar survey in 2000.
The authors of the survey seem perplexed. Say the pollsters
This is a historic shift in public opinion when one recalls that in 1978, Orange County was the home of Proposition 6, sponsored by Orange County legislator John Briggs, which would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in California's public schools--a fight that was featured in the film "Milk." In 1992, President Bill Clinton was heavily criticized for his decision to allow gays to openly serve in the military. Many of his strongest critics were from Orange County.
We called Irvine gay-rights activist Laura Kanter-
-who made headlines by being part of the group who interrupted President Obama's speech last month to advocate for a repeal of Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell
--for her opinion about what the results mean. While initially skeptical of the poll, she said she was "not that surprised, but a little surprised" by the apparent rise in support for gay rights in OC. As we documented in a feature last year
, Proposition 8's passaged galvanized many same-sex-marriage supporters into activism.
"It's about fricken time" she said. "I think the Prop. 8 people voted and it was based on so many lies and so much distortion that if people had known what it was about it might not have won. I think people are finally getting the real picture. It's just a matter of education and us putting faces on this that people can see, people like [Kanter's wife] Karla and I living in our little house and dealing with the trials of everyday life like everyone else."
Meanwhile, the poll writers speculate
that perhaps the shift can be explained by the idea that gay-rights issues have "taken a back seat to other concerns, especially the economy."
What do you think? Have things changed that much since 2008? The poll legit? More on the survey methods here