Support for gay marriage in US hits record at 55 per cent

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Fifty-five per cent of Americans now approve of same-sex marriage, the highest level ever, according to a Gallup public opinion poll released Wednesday.

Recalling how support for marriage equality broke the 50-per cent mark in 2012, Gallup said its latest result was "further evidence that support for gay marriage has solidified above the majority level."

Support was strongest among young adults at 78 per cent. Regionally, opposition remains strong in southern states, where Gallup said advocates of traditional marriage are in the majority.

Back in 1996, when Gallup first posed the question, 68 per cent of Americans opposed same-sex marriage, and only 27 per cent of respondents came out in favor.

Same-sex marriage now is legal in 18 states plus the District of Columbia, with Oregon, Idaho and Pennsylvania the latest to join the growing list as a result of judicial rulings.

In a landmark decision in June last year, the US Supreme Court ruled that wedded gay and lesbian couples are entitled to the same benefits and protections as their heterosexual counterparts.

Gallup said its findings - posted on its website - were based on telephone interviews with 1,028 adults between May 8 and 11, giving a margin of error of plus or minus five percentage points.