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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 01:10 PM ET, 03/18/2011

Support for gay marriage, the details

For the first time in Washington Post-ABC News polls, a slim majority supports legal same-sex marriage, an increase of 16 percentage points over eight years of polls.

In 2009 and 2010, the public divided on whether it should be legal or illegal. Since last year, support is up six points to 53 percent, with significantly more saying it should be legal than illegal. There are notable changes in some key groups that have pushed support over a majority since last year. Yet wide divisions remain in many political and demographic groups.

One of the biggest shifts in opinion has occurred among men, who’ve been consistently against same-sex marriage. A majority of men now say it should be legal, matching the number of women who say so. Another big jump has been among college-educated whites, up 10 percentage points in a year to 65 percent overall.

Partisan divisions remain wide, with a majority of Republicans wanting gay marriage to be illegal and majorities of Democrats saying legal. Independents side with Democrats and moved up more sharply since last year, from 50 percent to 58 percent.

See the details by groups here.

% saying same-sex marriage should be legal
  Feb-10 Mar-11 Change
All 47 53 +6
No religion 68 81 +13
Men 42 53 +11
White college graduates 55 65 +10
Moderates 54 63 +9
Independents 50 58 +8
White Catholics 55 63 +8
30-64 47 53 +6
Liberals 71 76 +5
White non-college 41 46 +5
Democrats 60 64 +4
Republicans 27 31 +4
White evangelical Protestants 21 25 +4
18-29 65 68 +3
65+ 30 33 +3
Conservatives 26 29 +3
Women 52 53 +1

This post has been updated since it was first published.

By  |  01:10 PM ET, 03/18/2011

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