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Strong Support for Gay Marriage Now Exceeds Strong Opposition

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Strong public support for same-sex marriage exceeds strong opposition by a significant margin for the first time in ABC News/Washington Post polls, and African-Americans have moved more in favor, perhaps taking their lead from President Obama on the issue.

Overall, 53 percent of Americans say gay marriage should be legal -- a figure that has been steady in the past year but is up from 36 percent in 2006.  Thirty-nine percent “strongly” support it, while 32 percent are strongly opposed -- the first time strong sentiment has tilted positive.  Six years ago, by contrast, strong views on the issue were negative by a broad 27-point margin.

Further, this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that support for gay marriage has reached a new high among African-Americans in ABC/Post polls, up from four in 10 in recent surveys to 59 percent now.

Another result shows increasing exposure: Seventy-one percent of Americans now say they have a friend, family member or acquaintance who’s gay, up from 59 percent in 1998.  People who know someone who’s gay are 20 points more likely than others to support gay marriage.

Regardless of that shift, Obama’s May 9 announcement of his support for gay marriage shows no measurable impact on political preferences.  While more support than oppose his position -- 51-41 percent -- Americans divide on whether it’s a political plus or minus, with most saying it’s not a major factor in their vote choice.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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