As federal judges struck down bans on gay marriage in Pennsylvania and Oregon this week, a new Gallup poll reveals that Americans’ support for the law recognizing same-sex marriages as legally valid has hit a new high, now at 55%. Nearly eight in 10 young adults favor gay marriage now.
According to Gallup:
When Gallup first asked Americans this question about same-sex marriage in 1996, 68% were opposed to recognizing marriage between two men or two women, with slightly more than a quarter supporting it (27%). Since then, support has steadily grown, reaching 42% by 2004 when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize it — a milestone that reached its 10th anniversary this month.
In 2011, support for gay marriage vaulted over the 50% mark for the first time, and since 2012, support has remained above that level. In the last year, however, support has leveled off a bit. Currently, 17 states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage, while several states wait in legal limbo as they appeal judge rulings overturning state bans.
Among the most dramatic divisions in opinion on the issue are between age groups. As has been the case in the past, support for marriage equality is higher among younger Americans; the older an American is, the less likely he or she is to support marriage for same-sex couples. Currently, adults between the ages of 18 and 29 are nearly twice as likely to support marriage equality as adults aged of 65 and older.
Opinions also differ dramatically along party lines. Democrats (74%) are far more likely to support gay marriage as Republicans are (30%), while independents (58%) are more in line with the national average. Though Republicans still lag behind in their support of same-sex marriage, they have nearly doubled their support for it since Gallup began polling on the question in 1996.