Poll: For first time, majority backs same-sex marriage

For the first time, a majority of Americans said they support the right of same-sex couples to marry, according to a Gallup poll released Friday.

Fifty-three percent of Americans said that same-sex marriages should be seen as equal under the law and enjoy the same rights as traditional marriages, the first time a majority of Americans have expressed that viewpoint since Gallup started tracking the issue in 1996.

Forty-five percent of Americans expressed opposition to legal same-sex marriage, which, similarly, is the lowest level of opposition in the tracking of the poll.

The poll suggests that the shift has been driven by evolving views among Democrats and independents, along with more supportive views among younger Americans.

Even President Obama, who remains on the record in opposition to same-sex marriage, has admitted that his views are "evolving" when it comes to the issue, one of great importance to a number of his gay and lesbian supporters.

"My feelings are constantly evolving," Obama said at a December press conference. "My baseline is a strong civil union that affords them legal protections ... I recognize from their perspective, it's not enough."

That marked something of a departure from the Bush administration, during which President George W. Bush was a vocal proponent of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, and encouraged state ballot initiatives to ban same-sex marriages.

The poll, conducted May 5-8, has a 4 percent margin of error.