As the debate continues to rage over gay marriage, a new Gallup poll shows that support for the legalization of same-sex nuptials has never been higher.

The proportion of Americans who believe gay unions should be granted the same rights as traditional marriages has ticked up to 55 percent, with 42 percent of the nation standing in opposition.

This is the fourth consecutive year that the majority of the public has championed equal rights for gays and lesbians, though support seems to have leveled off; the proportions in 2013 were 54 percent and 43 percent, respectively.

Regardless, the overall increase paints a stark contrast when compared to the  68 percent of the public who opposed same-sex unions in 1996. Only 27 percent of Americans supported legalizing same-sex unions at that time.

Image source: Gallup

Image source: Gallup

The increase in support follows legal battles in Pennsylvania, Oregon and Arkansas in which judges struck down bans on same-sex marriage. 

Considering these legal victories teamed with endorsements from President Barack Obama, among other prominent officials, gay relationships have gained wider acceptance in recent years.

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