In a historic shift, a Gallup poll released Friday morning finds that for the first time, a majority of Americans suport legalizing same sex marriage.
That result reinforces a trove of recent polls that have produced similar findings, and it furthers a trend of Americans gradually becoming more accepting of legal recognition for same sex couples. It comes as Republicans are taking legal action over the Obama administration’s decision to no longer defend parts of the Defense of Marriage Act on grounds of constitutionality.
In the poll, 53% of Americans said they supported same sex marriage, compared to 45% who said they did not. That’s almost exactly the opposite of what Gallup found last year, when 53% of Americans opposed same sex marriage, while 44% supported it.
The drastic shift came entirely from increased support from Democrats and independents. Last year, 56% of Democrats and 49% of independents backed legal status for same sex marriage, percentages that rose to 69% and 59% respectively this year.
Meanwhile, Republicans remained unchanged in their stance. Twenty-eight percent said they opposed same sex marriage last year, the same percentage who said the same now.
Last month, a CNN poll also found for the first time that a majority of Americans supported same sex marriage, in the poll by a 51% to 47% split. And while a Pew poll back in March found Americans evenly split in their views on same sex marriage, that result furthered a clear trend of rising support over the past several years.
The mounting pile of polls indicating growing support for same sex marriage couldn’t come at a worse time for Republicans, as they’ve just suffered an embarrassing setback in their legal challenge to the White house over Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement that the Department of Justice would no longer defend DOMA.
Republicans were outraged by that decision, and responded by saying they would defend the law — which bars the federal government from recognizing same sex couples — in court. But mere days after Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) announced that law firm King & Spalding had signed on to defend DOMA, the law firm backed out, prompting one of their attorneys, Paul Clement, to resign.