(CNN) – How times have changed.
Ten years ago on Saturday, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage following a ruling months earlier by the state's Supreme Court.
As couples packed Boston's City Hall to apply for marriage licenses, Thomas Menino, the Democratic mayor at the time, gave them a warm welcome. And the state's governor back then, Republican Mitt Romney, said he'd abide by the law.
"An issue as fundamental to society as the definition of marriage should be decided by the people. Until then I intend to follow the law and expect others to do the same," the future Republican presidential nominee added.
But at the White House, then-President George W. Bush reissued what he termed an "urgent" call for such marriages to be banned under the Constitution.
"The sacred institution of marriage should not be redefined by a few activist judges," he said in a written statement.
With Bush backing a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage, and his Democratic challenger, then-Sen. John Kerry (who opposed same-sex marriage but supported civil unions) hailing from Massachusetts, the issue became a factor in the 2004 presidential election.
That November, voters in 11 states convincingly passed same-sex marriage bans. The push to put the issue on the ballot was seen as a move by the GOP to drive conservative voters to the polls to help re-elect Bush.
One of the states where it passed was the crucial battleground of Ohio. Kerry conceded to Bush the day after Election Day after Bush narrowly captured Ohio.
That was then - This is now
Seventeen states as well as the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage. Around 40% of the country's population lives in states where such marriages are now legal.
But opposition to same-sex marriage remains firm in many parts of the country, and most states still don't allow gays and lesbians to legally wed.
The most dramatic change is in the court of public opinion.
In 2004, public opinion polls indicated that only a minority of the public supported legal same-sex marriage. Now it's different story, with such support at all-time highs.
An ABC News/Washington Post survey conducted two months ago indicated that 59% of Americans favored allowing gay or lesbian couples to legally wed.
The survey was conducted after federal judges struck down a bunch of state bans on same-sex marriage and prohibitions on recognizing such unions performed in other states.
The judges based their rulings on the 5-4 decision last summer by the Supreme Court, which ruled as unconstitutional a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which withheld recognition of, and benefits from, same-sex couples married in states where such marriages are legal.
But recent polling indicates a wide partisan divide on the issue, with most Democrats and a majority of independents supportive of legal same-sex marriages, but by a smaller majority, Republicans opposed to allowing same-sex couples to legally wed. The surveys also point to an expected generational divide, with younger people much more supportive than older people.
And the issue ranks at or near the bottom of lists of the top concerns of voters.
While social conservatives, a key part of the GOP's base, continue to fight against legal same-sex marriage, the issue doesn't seem to fire up the right as a whole, to the extent it did in days past.