05/16/2008 - The California Supreme Court opened the door to same-sex marriages in the nation's largest state, reigniting a hot-button social issue amid a presidential election campaign so far dominated by economic issues and the war in Iraq.
The ruling makes California the second state, after Massachusetts, to give gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. But lawyers said the state's national influence and size -- representing 12% of the country's population and one-fifth of the electoral vote need to win the White House -- make the decision the most important legal victory to date for proponents of same-sex marriage. The decision, coming six months before the presidential election, also could galvanize voters on a topic that in this campaign cycle has largely been on the sidelines.
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The decision comes amid signs of a shift in public attitudes toward gay marriage. A poll from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life last year showed that 55% of Americans opposed allowing gays to marry, down from 63% in 2004.
Read the full article California Ruling Reignites Same-Sex Marriage Debate on the Wall Street Journal Web site.