Within the last decade, there has been great progress made with regard to gay rights. Today, gay and lesbian couples can legally marry in 19 states. Additionally, in recent months existing gay marriage bans have been contested and struck down in several states. Most notably perhaps was the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act which previously banned married same-sex couples from enjoying the same benefits afforded to heterosexual couples.

All of these positive changes point to the American public’s growing acceptance of and support for gay marriage rights. A recent Gallup poll further proves this point, showing that an estimated 55 percent of U.S. citizens support gay marriage.

For the poll, 1,028 U.S. adults were asked whether they believe gay marriage should be legal. The same question was originally posed to poll respondents in 1996. At that time, only 27 percent of survey respondents were in favor of gay marriage while 68 percent were opposed. Since that time, there has been a dramatic shift in public opinion with more than 50 percent of respondents reporting they were favor of gay marriage for the first time in 2011.

Not surprisingly, there are dramatic divisions in opinion on this issue between both age and political groups. For example, nearly 80 percent of survey respondents ages 18-29 approve of gay marriage, whereas just over 40 percent of individuals age 65 and older feel the same way. Additionally, while 74 percent of democrat respondents favor gay marriage, only 30 percent of republicans report to being in favor of legalizing gay marriage.

While there continues to be deep division amongst certain U.S. demographic groups, overall the results of the survey indicate that the number of Americans who support gay rights including the right to marry is growing. In the coming years, gay marriage bans will continue to be struck down and declared unconstitutional in states across the country. In the meantime, however, same-sex couples face unique challenges when it comes to both marriage and divorce.

In cases where a same-sex couple in Maryland wants to legally separate or divorce, it’s wise to seek the advice and assistance of an attorney who has previously handled same-sex divorces.

Source: Gallup.com, ” Same-Sex Marriage Support Reaches New High at 55%: Nearly eight in 10 young adults favor gay marriage,” Justin McCarthy, May 21, 2014