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Public Support for Gay Marriage on Verge of Surpassing Opposition

Gay marriage is continuing to gain acceptance among the public -- the latest survey from the Pew Research Center shows Americans almost evenly split between those who oppose and those who support same-sex marriage.

According to the poll, conducted during the last week of February, 45 percent of Americans say gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry, up from 37 percent in 2009 (and just 27 percent in 1996) while 46 percent oppose same-sex marriage, down from 54 percent two years ago, and down from a 65 percent disapproval rate in 1996.

Partisan differences remain stark, with 57 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of independents backing gay marriage. Only one in four Republicans support the right of gays to marry, but that is up from 15 percent in 1996.