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Most young Americans overwhelmingly support gay marriage

Demonstrators celebrate outside of U.S. Supreme Court following the announcement of the ruling on the same-sex marriage case, in Washington, June 26, 2015. In a long-sought victory for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Court ruled Friday that the Constitution guarantees a nationwide right to same-sex marriage.

Zach Gibson/The New York Times

Young demonstrators celebrate outside of the Supreme Court following its same-sex marriage ruling.

Today’s US Supreme Court ruling falls upon a country in which the majority of residents support same-sex marriage.

As state after state opened its doors to same-sex marriage during the last decade, favorability among the American public grew, according to the Pew Research Center. And it continues to do so.

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During the last decade, support of same-sex marriage has grown across nearly all segments of the US population. But Pew found that a key component to this shift was the strong support of younger Americans.

Seventy-three percent of millennials, or adults born after 1980, were in favor of same-sex marriage in 2015, according to Pew’s study. Forty-five percent said they strongly support it.

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Millennials’ support for same-sex marriage has steadily climbed in the last decade, growing 24 percentage points.

America’s other adult generations have also shown increasing support for same-sex marriage in recent years. The majority of Gen Xers became proponents of it in 2012, increasing to 59 percent in 2015.

While the favorability ratings among baby boomers and the silent generation (those born from 1928 to 1945) are still below 50 percent, the percentage of people who support it in each generation has grown during the last 10 years.

Millennials lead in support for same-sex marriage

Percent of generation who favor same-sex marriage

DATA: Pew Research Center

Globe Staff

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The influence of millennials isn’t only due to their more widespread acceptance of same-sex marriage but also by their size. They are the nation’s largest generation, making up more than a quarter of the US population, according to the US Census.

Millennial support for same-sex marriage does not break down on any political lines. Though overall, Democrats support same-sex marriage at higher rates than Republicans, the majority of millennials are in favor of it regardless of political affiliation.

Millennials in favor of same-sex marriage, regardless of political affiliation
Percent of generation in favor by political affiliation and/or leaning in 2015
Millennials: Democrats
82%
Millennials: Republicans
59%
Gen X: Democrats
71%
Gen X: Republicans
45%
Baby Boomer: Democrats
60%
Baby Boomer: Republicans
31%
Silent Generation: Democrats
54%
Silent Generation: Republicans
24%
SOURCE: Pew Research Center
Globe Staff

Enthusiasm for same-sex marriage is almost ubiquitous in the LGBT community; only 7 percent of the LGBT population opposed it, according to a 2015 Pew study.

But within the community, the younger generation still has higher rates of support. Of LGBT millennials, 95 percent were in favor of same-sex marriage, and 82 percent were strongly in favor of it.

By comparison, 91 percent LGBT adults age 30 and older supported the legal marriage for gay and lesbian Americans, with 71 percent strongly in favor of it.

Catherine Cloutier can be reached at catherine.cloutier@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @cmcloutier.
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