As courts and legislatures address the question of whether same-sex couples should be allowed to legally marry, public support for gay marriage continues to grow. Polls in 2011 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that an average of 45% favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally; about the same percentage (46%) opposes gay marriage. That marked the first time in 15 years of polling that the public has been evenly divided over this issue.
Just two years earlier, in 2009, a clear majority (54%) opposed gay marriage while just 37% favored it. In 1996, when Pew Research first asked about letting gay couples marry legally, almost two-thirds of the public (65%) opposed the idea, and just 27% favored it.
There continue to be substantial generational, partisan and racial differences over gay marriage. Since the 1990s, however, support has increased across most demographic and political groups.
Read the full report, Growing Public Support for Same-Sex Marriage, on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.