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

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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

“Since voters 18 to 29 years old support same-sex marriage 63 to 35 percent, once again we see it's just a matter of time,” says Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Hamden, Conn. "It seems pretty clear that attitudes toward same-sex marriage in American society are changing rapidly. While the country remains split on the issue, supporters have come pretty far in the last four years.”

Meanwhile, official attitudes and actions are moving in the direction of greater acceptance as well.

During the past four years, the military’s "don’t ask, don’t tell" ban on gay service members serving openly has been reversed, the Obama administration has refused to legally defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court, and President Obama has joined other senior political figures in voicing support for same-sex marriage.

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