Poll: 56 percent of Americans believe in marriage equality

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A new poll out this week from the New York Times and CBS News shows that 40 percent of Republicans support marriage equality, further indication that Americans are moving steadily in one direction on the issue. Less than two years ago, just 24 percent of Republicans said they thought it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to marry.

“Throughout history there are few issues that have enjoyed such a meteoric rise in support in such a short time span,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “Like a majority of Americans, a growing number of Republicans are embracing the fact that committed and loving gay and lesbian couples deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and equality. The court of public opinion now stands firmly on the side of justice and it’s only a matter of time before our laws catch up.”

Released Wednesday afternoon, the poll also shows that 56 percent of all Americans believe it should be legal for same sex couples to marry. Among people 44 years of age and younger, 56 percent of Republicans and 85 percent of Democrats support marriage equality.

A number of prominent Republicans have spoken out in support of marriage equality, including 2012 presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, three current United States senators, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and many others.

Just a decade ago in December of 2003, only 34 percent of Americans supported marriage equality. Five months later, Massachusetts became the first state to grant marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples. Today, 17 states and the District of Columbia have marriage equality.

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