A first: Majority of Americans now supports same-sex marriage, Gallup finds
Thanks to a radical shift in thinking among independents and Democrats during the past year, for the first time in Gallup Poll tracking a clear majority of Americans now approves of gay marriage.
A new Gallup Poll released this morning finds that this month 53% of Americans say same-sex marriage should be recognized in law as equally valid with traditional male-female marriages.
The spurt in support of 9% in the past 12 months was the largest registered since Gallup first tracked the topic in 1996. Back then, only 27% supported same-sex marriage and two-thirds opposed.
Support for same-sex marriages had hovered in the low 40's since about 2004, until the latest figures, showing 59% of independents and 69% of Democrats now support the idea, while 28% of Republicans do. The GOP figure was unchanged from 2010.
The new statistics also show a predictable generational cleavage, with support for gay marriage highest among the youngest (70% among those 18 to 34), declining to 53% among those 35 to 54 years old and weakest among those over 55 (39%) -- although even that segment's support increased six points in the past 12 months.
Support for gay marriage is higher among Catholics than Protestants, among the unmarried and among those who attend church less frequently.
Gallup was unable to determine what role, if any, last year's repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy had on the substantial shift in marriage opinion. A majority of Americans (now two-thirds) has supported that change since 2005.
-- Andrew Malcolm
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Photo: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times (Jade and Amber Fox wait to apply for a marriage license in Beverly Hills, 2010).