The Washington Times - May 20, 2011, 01:34PM

A slight majority of Americans for the first time say they believe same-sex marriage should be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages among heterosexual couples, a new poll shows.

Results of a Gallup national survey released Friday found that 53 percent of respondents support the legality of gay marriage — the first time in Gallup’s tracking of the issue that the number has risen about 50 percent.


The increase since last year came exclusively among political independents and Democrats. Republicans’ views did not change. The results are based on Gallup’s May 5-8 “Values and Beliefs” poll, which has tracked attitudes toward legalizing same-sex marriage each year since 2004.

Democratic and independent support for legalized same-sex marriage increased this year by 13 and 10 percentage points, respectively, the survey found. Republicans’ views on the issue did not change from last year.

Clear majorities of both Democrats and independents now support gay marriage — 69 percent and 59 percent respectively — contrasted with just 28 percent support among Republicans.

Majorities of respondents identified as moderates or liberals support gay marriage, as they did last year, compared to 28 percent of conservatives.

Support for legal gay marriage decreases markedly with age, ranging from 70 percent support among those aged 18 to 34, to 39 percent support among those 55 and older, Gallup pollsters said. More broadly, support is highest among younger women and lowest among older men.

The Gallup poll is consistent other recent surveys on the issue. A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released April 19 showed 51 percent of respondents saying that marriages between gay and lesbian couples should be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages. And a Washington Post-ABC News poll taken in March showed that 53 percent of Americans believe gay marriage should be legal.