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Major survey shows clear majority of Americans support marriage equality

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Although the largest growth in support came among Republicans, Democrats and independents are still more likely than Republicans to support marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples. And Democrats, too, are more likely to support marriage rights now – 65 percent- than they were two years ago, when this held favor with 59 percent of Democrats. Support held steady among independents, 54 percent of whom support marriage rights for gay couples.

When the GSS first asked Americans the question in 1988, support for gay marriage hovered in the range of 1 to 10 percent in all three groups.

The survey also found a double-digit increase in support over the past two years among 50 to 64 year olds, half of whom now favor marriage rights for gay couples, and among 18 to 34 year olds, more than 7 in 10 of whom support it.

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At least half of Americans in all age groups, except those aged 65 and over, now favor legal same sex marriage, the survey found.

The General Social Survey is administered by NORC at the University of Chicago, primarily using in-person interviewing. The GSS started in 1972 and completed its 30th round in 2014.

The typical sample size was 1,500 prior to 1994, but increased to 2,700-3,000 until 2008, and decreased to 2,000 for the most recent surveys. Resulting margins of error are between plus or minus 3.1 percentage points for the smaller sample sizes and plus or minus 2.2 percentage points for the larger sample sizes at the 95 percent confidence level.

The 2014 survey was conducted March 31-Oct. 11, 2014 among 2,538 American adults. The GSS 1972-2014 Cumulative File was utilized to produce the statistics presented.

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