Majority of Americans support gay marriage in poll

Source: Agencies  |   2011-5-21  |     ONLINE EDITION

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FIFTY-THREE percent of Americans support making gay marriage legal, according to a Gallup poll released yesterday, a marked reversal from just a year ago when an equal majority opposed same-sex matrimony.

The findings are in line with two national polls earlier this spring that found support for legally recognized gay marriage has gained a newfound majority among Americans in recent months.

Gallup said Democrats and political independents accounted for the entire shift in its survey compared to last year, when only 44 percent of all respondents favored gay marriage, while 53 percent were opposed. The percentage of Republicans favoring gay marriage held steady at 28 percent.

Same-sex marriage remains a highly contested issue in US politics, but homosexual couples have won the right to legally wed in five states -- Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa -- and Washington, D.C.

The growing support for gay marriage comes after President Barack Obama signed into law legislation in December to repeal the ban on openly gay people serving in the military under a 17-year-old law known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Gallup noted the policy change, but said it was unclear if that influenced Americans' attitudes about same-sex unions.

"The trend toward marriage equality is undeniable -- and irreversible," Joe Solmonese, president of the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement.

Maggie Gallagher, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, said the poll shows her fellow opponents of gay matrimony have been "shamed" into silence.

"Polls are becoming very sensitive to wording, and the wording being used in the media are not predicting accurately what happens at the actual polls when people vote," she said.

In a sign of a generation gap, Gallup found 70 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 support gay marriage, compared to only 39 percent among those 55 and older.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll in March showed 53 percent of Americans said same-sex marriage should be legal, and 51 percent said the same thing in a CNN Poll released in April.

By comparison, a 1996 Gallup found that 68 percent of Americans were opposed to same-sex marriage, a figure that has trended downward ever since.

The Gallup poll was based on phone interviews conducted from May 5 to May 8, with a random sample of 1,018 adults 18 or older, living in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. It can be found at

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