Support for legal same-sex marriage is at an all-time high, according to a new national poll.
An ABC News/Washington Post survey released Wednesday indicates that 59% of Americans favor allowing gay or lesbian couples to legally wed. That's up two percentage points from an ABC News/Washington Post poll from last summer and appears to be the highest level of support ever recorded in any non-partisan, live operator national survey.
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Thirty-four percent of those questioned say they oppose legal same-sex marriages, down six points from last summer.
The new 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.
The new poll indicates the expected partisan divide, with seven in ten Democrats and just over six in ten independents supportive of legal same-sex marriages. But by a 54%-40% margin, Republicans oppose allowing same-sex couples to legally wed. There's also an expected generational divide, with 72% of those age 18-39 saying they favor legal same-sex marriage. That number drops to 54% for those age 40-64 and down to 47% for those 65 and older.
According to the survey, 53% of those questioned in the 33 states where such unions are illegal support legal same-sex marriages, with four in ten opposed.
Last week Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse serving gays, lesbians, and others, based on religious grounds. More than eight in ten questioned in the survey say businesses should not be allowed to refuse service to gays or lesbians.
The ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted Feb. 27-March, 2, with 1,002 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.