Survey: Most Asian American Voters Against Proposition 8

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Californians have exactly two weeks before they will have to decide the fate of Proposition 8, but a recent survey has found that a majority of Asian Americans oppose the proposed state ban on same-sex marriage.

According to the survey released by the National Asian American Survey last Wednesday, which was co-coordinated by a UC Berkeley professor, 57 percent of likely Asian American voters in California who were surveyed said they are against Proposition 8.

The proposition would change the state constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.

"What this really shows is that there was a common misconception about Asian American communities that they are insular and often conservative," said Tawal Panyacosit, the director of API Equality in San Francisco and a member of the executive committee for the No on Prop 8 campaign. "These numbers show a different picture."

The survey found differences in the strength of this opposition among several Asian American groups, but there is a near, if not clear, majority in each category. A majority of Chinese, Filipino, Korean and Vietnamese voters said they would vote against the proposition, while a little less than 50 percent of Indian and Japanese voters said they would vote against it.

Some UC Berkeley professors said cultural ideologies of different groups can determine their stances on issues like Proposition 8. While some Asian Americans are against gay marriage, they may not vote in favor of a ban if it would affect other people's lifestyles.

"Chinese usually are not evangelical, out to change other people's views and lifestyles," said L. Ling-chi Wang, professor emeritus in the Asian American studies department, in an e-mail. "Proselytizing others is not their style."

The survey on Proposition 8 was part of a general study about Asian Americans and how they may be an important voting bloc in the upcoming election in California.

UC Berkeley political science associate professor Taeku Lee, with professors from University of Southern California, UC Riverside and Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, helped compile the survey about the proposition.

Researchers contacted people who considered themselves Asian American, and offered the interviews in Asian languages, as well as in English.

Panyacosit said the release of the survey's results will help the No on 8 campaign in Berkeley.

"It's great because it provides leaders to come out," he said. "It increases our ability to outreach to organizations."

Despite the results, some UC Berkeley Asian American students said they plan to vote in favor of Proposition 8.

"I'm voting yes on Prop 8 because I think legalizing same sex marriage will disintegrate family values," said junior Christina Cha.

Other Asian American students' opinions mirror the survey's results.

"Live and let live," said senior Rick Nguyen. "Just because I'm Asian doesn't mean I have to be sexist."


Contact Erika Oblea at [email protected]

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