Poll: 50 percent say gay marriage a right

Half the respondents to a recent survey believe gay marriage is protected under the Constitution.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Wednesday found that 41 percent do not agree that the equal protection clause of the Constitution guarantees the right of gay people to marry. 

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The poll also found support for gay marriage has reached an all-time high of 59 percent — a boost of 2 points since last year. Some 34 percent are opposed to it. 

Seven in 10 Democrats support gay marriage, while 61 percent of independents feel the same. However, a majority of Republicans, 54 percent, continue to oppose it, with 40 percent in support. 

Currently, 17 states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage, while 33 states ban it in some way. In those 33 states, support for gay marriage has reached 53 percent, according to the poll. 

The numbers come as a judges ruled same-sex marriage bans in a handful of states, from Utah to Virginia, are unconstitutional. The spate of rulings came after the Supreme Court last year invalidated a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage on the federal level as between a man and a woman. 

The ruling has been cited in most of the cases, though the High Court was silent on whether states themselves have the obligation to allow same-sex marriage. In their rulings, many judges have said the issue will eventually have to be decided by the Supreme Court. 

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) recently vetoed a state bill that critics say would have allowed businesses to cite their religious beliefs when refusing service to gay people. The bill sparked an intense backlash from gay rights groups, national Republicans and businesses in the state. 

A total of 65 percent of people nationally think business should not be able to refuse service to gay people, even if it violates their religious beliefs. 

Another 28 percent think a business should be able to deny service to gay people.

A Democratic-affiliated Public Policy Poll released Tuesday found 66 percent of Arizona residents opposed the measure as well.