So I'm pretty new to guitar so this might be slightly "noobish", but anyway...

I decided I wanted to start learning Little Wing, so naturally I tuned my guitar a half step down (I know you can probably learn it in normal tuning but I think it sounds alot better that way). So my first observation was that the string tension is significantly reduced. I know some people refrain from steel string acoustics because of issues with fingers hurting when they are first starting out...so why couldn't they just tune down and then use a capo at first?

Now for my other question... Is there any possible adverse affects to the guitar by leaving it in 1/2 step down tuning for a while? Seeing how in the future I'll be doing most of my playing back in standard tuning.
some people do tune their guitars a half-step down and capo up when first learning.

leaving your guitar in half-step down for extended periods of time shouldn't have any adverse effects on your guitar.
Yeh, i keep a guitar tuned down a semitone...no adverse effects.
^I'm in the same boat, I've had my guitars at half a step down since I brought them home from the shop. They have been tuned this way for years, and I can't think of any problems that would've been caused by this tuning.
the only problem is learning by eye the finger placements. thats what the dots are for after all, and if your playing everything capoed at the first fret to allow for a de-tune your not learning the 'real' neck. quit being a bunch of pussys and take a little pain on your finger tips and learn properly.
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How much of a difference does it really make to have the guitar tuned down a half and play capo on the 1st all the time? Is there really that much less pressure on the bridge and less tension on the strings to make a noticeable difference? Seems to me any advantage would be slight at best, but I have never tried it...
I don't know, on my guitar it seems to be quite a difference. Felt more like I was playing a typical electric after it was tuned down.

BTW, the only reason why I was concerned was because I thought maybe the tuners would go out of whack or something. But I guess not!
there won't be any actual damage to the tuners themselves, but guitars tend to not stay in tune as well in lower tunings in my experience.