Hitting a new all-time high, 60 percent of Americans say they believe marriage between same-sex couples should be recognized by law, with the same rights and privileges as traditional marriages, according to the latest Gallup poll.
That’s a far cry from 1996, the first year in which Gallup posed the question to Americans. Back then, 68 percent of respondents said same-sex marriages should not be valid, compared to 27 percent who were in favor of gay marriage.
The 2015 result is a 5-percent uptick from last year’s 55 percent mark. Gallup says, “Public support for the legality of same-sex marriage first reached a majority in 2011, when 53 percent supported it.”
Support is at highs among America’s major political groups: 37 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of independents, and 76 percent of Democrats backed same-sex marriage in this year’s poll. Contrast that to the period before 2005, when independents routinely showed the strongest support for same-sex unions.
Gallup says it conducted the poll in early May, with a random sample of 1,024 adults in 50 U.S. states and D.C. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 5 points.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule on gay marriage in the coming weeks; the justices heard challenges to four states’ ban on same-sex marriage last month.
Beyond political affiliations, Gallup reports seeing a generational shift, as well, noting that 54 percent of Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 now support gay marriage, leaving those 65 and over as the only age group with a majority that’s against legally recognizing gay marriage.
“About a quarter of Americans (26 percent) say they vote for a political candidate solely based on his or her stance on gay marriage. Many others say it is but one of several important factors (43 percent), and about one in four say it is not a major issue influencing how they vote (26 percent).”