Young Republicans support same-sex marriage

The generation gap that many credit with moving the needle on same-sex marriage apparently crosses party lines.

According to a new Pew Research Center survey, 61 percent of Republicans under 30 -- a clear majority -- favor allowing same-sex marriage, while 35 percent oppose it.

That's a marked difference from both their older counterparts and the party at large. Only 27 percent of Republicans over 50 support allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed, according to the poll, compared with 39 percent approval from Republicans overall.

By contrast, 69 percent of Democrats favor allowing same-sex marriage -- meaning that on this particular issue, the views of GOP youth are more in line with Democrats than with fellow party members.

Pew's survey also suggests a growing rift between older Republicans and the rest of the country on the same-sex marriage debate. Support for same-sex marriage is at 54 percent nationwide, a sizable increase from the 32 percent who favored it back in 2003.

The change in attitudes hasn't been restricted by regional boundaries, either. While support for same-sex marriage continues to be higher in the Northeast and West, a recent poll conducted by the Public Religion Resarch Institute shows a remarkable shift in the South, where no state has approved marriage equality legislation and where opposition to same-sex marriage has appeared deeply entrenched. 

Southerners are now evenly split on same-sex marriage, according to PRRI, with 48 percent favoring and 48 opposing. That's not overwhelming support, but in 2003, Southern support for same-sex marriage was reportedly at 22 percent. For that number to more than double suggests a larger sea change in opinion may be at hand.

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