SAN FRANCISCO - More than half of California residents would support amending the state constitution to outlaw gay marriage, according to a poll published yesterday.

The Los Angeles Times/KTLA poll of 834 Californians, 705 of them registered voters, found that 54 percent of the voters surveyed backed a gay marriage ban proposed for the November ballot and 35 percent opposed it.

The ballot initiative follows a May 15 ruling by the state Supreme Court legalizing same-sex nuptials.

But with so many months to go before the election and the court's decision only a week old, the survey results suggest the initiative supporters' edge could evaporate, said the newspaper's poll director, Susan Pinkus.

"Although the amendment to reinstate the ban on same-sex marriage is winning by a small majority, this may not bode well for the measure," Pinkus said.

If the amendment qualifies for the ballot and passes in November, it would overturn the Supreme Court's decision and set the stage for further legal wrangling that would leave the validity of same-sex marriage performed between now and then in doubt.

The poll, conducted by telephone on Tuesday and Wednesday, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for all respondents, and 4 points for registered voters. *