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Same-sex weddings in Washington State: Breakthrough for gay marriage?

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Those elections were an important shift given that all previous ballot measures – 31 in all – amended state constitutions to prohibit same-sex marriage. Polls indicate that public opinion is moving steadily in that direction.

In 2008, a Quinnipiac University poll showed most Americans opposed to same-sex marriage by a wide margin (55 to 36 percent). By this year, the numbers had shifted dramatically, with a plurality (48 to 46 percent) now backing gay marriage, Quinnipiac reported this week.

There’s a clear gender gap here, although both men and women are moving in the direction of approval.

In 2008, men opposed gay marriage 61-31 percent. Now they oppose it 50-43 percent, a 23- point shift. Women, who had opposed it 51-40 percent in 2008, now back it 52-42 percent, a shift of 21 points, reports Quinnipiac.

The Gallup polling organization reports this week that 53 percent of Americans believe same-sex marriages should be recognized by law as valid with the same rights as traditional marriages. That ties with May 2011 as the highest level of support Gallup has found since it began tracking the issue in 1996.

Forty-six percent of the adult population continues to oppose gay marriage, Gallup found, most of those “on the basis of religious beliefs and/or interpretation of biblical passages dealing with same-sex relations.”

The generational gap may be more significant in what it portends for public attitudes

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