Majority of Americans support gay marriage in poll

Fri May 20, 2011 10:26pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Fifty-three percent of Americans support making gay marriage legal, a Gallup poll showed on Friday, a marked reversal from just a year ago when an equal majority opposed same-sex matrimony.

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

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 same-sex matrimony held steady at 28 percent.

Same-sex marriage remains a highly contested issue in U.S. politics, but homosexual couples have won the right to legally wed in five states -- Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa -- and the District of Columbia. Gay couples have faced setbacks elsewhere, and no statewide initiative to legalize gay marriage has ever won a majority vote.

The growing support for gay marriage comes after President Barack Obama signed into law legislation in December to repeal the ban on openly gay men and women 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.   Continued...

<p>A marriage equality supporter holds gay pride and American flags at a demonstration outside the appeals hearing on California&rsquo;s Proposition 8 at the 9th District Court of Appeals in San Francisco in this December 6, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Stephen Lam</p>