WASHINGTON — Americans’ support for laws that legalize same-sex marriage has reached a new high, according to new data released by Gallup.
The Gallup poll released Wednesday found that 55 percent of Americans support laws recognizing same-sex marriage, a steady and slight increase from 2011 when Gallup first reported that support for marriage equality has vaulted over the 50 percent mark.
When Gallup first asked Americans this question about same-sex marriage in 1996, 68 percent 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.
Today, the most dramatic divisions in opinion on the issue are between age groups, reports Gallup.
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, nearly eight out of 10 young adults age 18-29 support marriage equality, the poll found.
Political affiliation was also a factor: 74 percent of Democrats surveyed said they supported marriage equality, compared to just 30 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of independents.
Article continues belowThe Southern U.S. is the only region where same-sex marriage support falls below the 50 percent mark (currently at 48 percent). Support is highest in the East, where two-thirds (67 percent) of residents support marriage equality.
The poll comes on the heels of 14 consecutive legal victory for same-sex marriage advocates since last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
On Monday, a federal judge in Oregon struck down that state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, and on Tuesday, a federal judge in Pennsylvania struck down that state’s ban.
Same-sex marriage is currently legal in 18 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. If Pennsylvania’s ruling stands, the number becomes 19 states (Oregon officials declined to defend the ban and are not appealing the ruling).