For the first time, more Americans support legalization of same-sex marriage than oppose it, according to a Washington Post-ABC News
The survey, showing 53 percent backing for gay marriage, comes amid signs of increased acceptance of homosexuals in the U.S. Just five years go in polling by the same news group, only 36 percent favored gay marriage, the Post
Taken last weekend, the new survey asked a random sample of 1,005 adults, "Do you think it should be legal or illegal for gay and lesbian couples to get married?" Support for that proposition grew among college-educated whites, political independents, and respondents who didn't regard themselves as religious, the Post said. Men, in general, were on the positive side of the question at the same rate as women.
Republicans, conservatives and white evangelical Christians were among the 44 percent opposed. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Brian Brown, a gay marriage foe and president of the National Organization for Marriage, said the term "illegal" may have skewed the numbers, since most Americans wouldn't favor imprisonment for violating a law against same-sex marriage. But Brown noted that voters in 31 states have approved ballot issues banning gay marriage.
Although a bill legalizing gay marriage failed this month in the Maryland
legislature, gay-rights advocates have had their share of victories. Congress last year repealed the Pentagon's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy that prohibited openly gay men and women from serving in the military. And the Obama administration announced last month that it would no longer defend in court a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act
-- which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, said the Post-ABC findings were "consistent with a lot of other polling data
we've seen, and the general momentum we seen over the past year and a half. As people have come to understand this is about loving, committed families dealing, like everyone, with tough times, they understand how unfair it is to treat them differently."