Gallup: 55 percent of Americans favor same-sex marriage as Pa. becomes 19th state to allow it

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     Brad Strong and Anthony Reisinger of Cheltenham, Pa., married four years ago in Washington, D.C. On Tuesday, they attended a rally at City Hall to celebrate a federal court decision overturning Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    Brad Strong and Anthony Reisinger of Cheltenham, Pa., married four years ago in Washington, D.C. On Tuesday, they attended a rally at City Hall to celebrate a federal court decision overturning Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    This week a U.S. District Court judge allowed Pennsylvania to join the rest of the Northeast in legalizing same-sex marriage. The state is the 19th to do so. We look at evolving attitudes on the issue with Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Poll.

    Listen to the interview above for all the latest numbers.

    Brand-new polling data finds that 55 percent of Americans approve of same-sex marriage, and 42 percent disapprove. In 1996, when Gallup first asked if marriages between same-sex partners should be seen by the law as valid (the same year Pennsylvania banned recognition of gay marriage) only 27 percent said yes. Popular opinion in favor of same-sex marriage didn’t cross into the majority until 2011. 

    Two of the biggest predictors of opinion are age and political party: younger people and Democrats tend to favor it over older people and Republicans. Region of the country makes a big difference as well.

    In contrast to the quickly opinions about same-sex marriage, opinions about abortion have not changed much over time. A federal court in Alabama began hearing arguments this week on an abortion case that has the potential to rise to the Supreme Court level. For many years now, Newport said, about 28 percent say abortion should be legal under any circumstance, about 21 percent say it should be illegal under any circumstance. About half are more ambivalent, saying that ab ortion should be legal in some caases and illegl in others.

    Pennsylvania and other states saw some big primary elections this past Tuesday in many states. As the two major parties battle for control of the U.S. House and Senate this November, the question arises: What do immigration, global warming, and foreign affairs have in common? All have below-average importance to the voter when they are asked about their vote. No. 1 is jobs; No. 2 is dysfunctional government.

    And Monday is Memorial Day, honoring the memories of those who have served in the U.S. armed forces. Newport says these days it’s a relatively rare thing for an American to have served in the military. And as we salute those men and women, which branch of service do Americans see as the most prestigious? The answer may surprise you.

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