Americans’ support for same-sex marriage has more than doubled since Gallup first polled on the issue in 1996, when 27% said it should be recognized as valid by the law.

Now, 64 percent of U.S. adults say same-sex marriages should be recognized by the law as valid. This is the highest percentage to date and continues the generally steady rise since Gallup’s trend began in 1996.

Over the past two decades, Democrats have almost always been the political group most likely to say gay marriages should be legally recognized. Among Americans who identify as Democrats, support first reached the majority level in 2004, as the issue was heavily politicized in that year’s presidential election.

Majority support for gay marriage among political independents followed a few years later, in 2007. The latest poll finds that more than seven in 10 independents (71%) and Democrats (74%) support same-sex marriage.

In recent decades, many GOP leaders adamantly opposed gay marriage, but rank-and-file Republicans’ support has nearly tripled since 1996. The current 47% of Republicans favoring it, although not at the majority level, is the highest for this group in the more than two-decade trend.

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Americans' support for same-sex marriage has more than doubled since Gallup first polled on the issue in 1996, when 27% said it should be recognized as valid by the law. Now, 64 percent of U.S. adults say same-sex marriages should be recognized by the law as valid. This is the...