SAN FRANCISCO — Barring a stay of a historic California Supreme Court ruling, same-sex couples will be able to wed in the state beginning June 17, according to a state directive issued Wednesday.
The state said it chose June 17 because the state Supreme Court has until the day before to decide whether to grant a stay of its May 15 ruling legalizing gay marriage.
Also Wednesday, a new poll found that for the first time, about half of California voters support same-sex marriage.
The Field Poll found that 51 percent of respondents backed legalizing same-sex marriage and 42 percent opposed it. A 2006 poll found that 44 percent supported same-sex marriage and 50 percent objected.
The phone survey of 1,052 registered voters had a sampling error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
The guidelines from Janet McKee, chief of California's office of vital records, to the state's 58 county clerks also contained copies of new marriage forms that include lines for "Party A" and "Party B" instead of bride and groom.
A group opposed to gay marriage has asked the court to stay its decision until after the November election, when voters are likely to face a ballot initiative that would once again define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Passage of the initiative would overrule the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court could grant itself an extra 60 days to consider the stay.
On a related front, New York Gov. David A. Paterson has directed state agencies to begin to revise policies and regulations to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, like Massachusetts, California and Canada.
In a directive issued on May 14, the governor's legal counsel, David Nocenti, instructed the agencies that gay couples married elsewhere "should be afforded the same recognition as any other legally performed union."
Information from the Associated Press and New York Times was used in this report.