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California high court overturns gay marriage ban

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Voters in Florida – a potential battleground state – will vote on a ballot initiative in November to ban same-sex marriage that could galvanize conservatives to vote.

There's also a question mark around the reaction of evangelical voters, who have recently begun to drift away from the GOP. There are reasons to suspect this ruling won't affect that shift greatly, says Ivan Strenski, a professor of religious studies at the University of California at Riverside. "We know that that shift among Evangelicals is partly a generational one, and we know that in the younger generations, they don't care about this."

The most immediate battle ahead will be in November, when Californians are likely to get the chance to vote on an initiative that would effectively reverse the court ruling. Sponsors of a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage have gathered more than 1.1 million signatures – enough to put it on the ballot.

Californians have split nearly evenly for years on the question. In June 2007, 45 percent favored allowing gay marriage and 49 percent opposed it, according to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

"Democrats are strongly in favor, Republicans are strongly opposed. It's a very sharp political divide on this question," says Mark Baldassare, PPIC president.

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