A landmark survey has found that a majority of Americans (53%) believe that same-sex marriage should be recognised by the law and should have the same rights as traditional marriage.

Conducted by Gallup, the research group said that this was the first time in its tracking of the issue, since 2004, that more Americans support same-sex marriage than oppose it.

“This year marks a significant uptick in support for legalising same-sex marriage, exceeding the symbolic 50% mark for the first time in Gallup’s history,” said the company.

“The issue does, however, remain highly divisive,” said Gallup. “Republicans in particular seem fixed in their opinions; there was no change at all in their support level this year, while independents’ and Democrats’ support jumped by double-digit margins.”

Gallup also found that younger people tended to agree with marriage equality (70% support among those aged 18 to 34) but this decreased markedly with age (39% support among those 55 and older).

Over the years, support for same-sex marriage in the US has grown from 27% in 1996 to around 40% in 2004 and now to 53%.

Currently, same-sex marriage is legal in five states in the US, civil unions in three states and domestic partnerships in six states. The federal government does not recognise same-sex marriages.

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