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At 59%, Support for Same-Sex Marriage Hits New High

Almost six in ten Americans say they favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into same-sex marriages, the highest level of support ever recorded in a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

In the new survey released Monday, 59 percent of Americans said that they favor same-sex marriages while just 33 percent said they oppose them.

View the full poll results here.

The numbers have shifted dramatically in the past decade. In 2004, only 30 percent of Americans said they supported same-sex marriage, while 62 percent disagreed. Half of those polled at the time said they strongly opposed allowing gays and lesbians to marry.

Democratic pollster Fred Yang noted how quickly public opinion has shifted on the issue, even compared to interracial marriage, which is now almost universally accepted.

"It took about 25 years for interracial marriage to get from 30 percent support to 60 percent," he said. "It took same-sex marriage ten years."

The share of the public backing same-sex marriage has even jumped from just two years ago, when 53 percent of Americans backed it and 42 percent did not.

That's due in part to big increases in support among Republicans (up 13 percent since 2013), seniors (up seven percent), and Hispanics (up 18 percent).

Americans who say they have gay or lesbian family members, co-workers or acquaintances are also more likely to back same-sex marriage. Seventy-seven percent of people now report that they personally know or work with someone who is gay or lesbian, up from 62 percent in 2004. Of those who know someone who is gay, 65 percent say they favor marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Most GOP primary voters are not on board with allowing same-sex marriage, with 40 percent favoring it and 53 percent opposing it. But there's a major difference between Republicans who identify with the Tea Party (24 percent favor/64 percent oppose) and those who don't (49 percent favor/47 percent oppose.)

The poll was conducted March 1-5 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.10 percent.

The Numbers Behind Same-Sex Marriage Legalization 1:17