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This Is Where the American People Stand on Legalizing Gay Marriage

Wedding cake is served by activists outside the Portuguese parliament, Friday, Jan. 8 2010, in Lisbon, after lawmakers passed a bill allowing gay marriage. The Socialist government's bill won the support today of all left-of-centre parties. Right-of-centre parties opposed the change and argued that it should be put to a national referendum. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

Tuesday ended up being a disappointing day for gay rights advocates who had hoped to see North Carolina voters reject a state constitutional amendment aimed at legally preventing gay matrimony. The provision, which inevitably passed by a large margin, makes North Carolina the 30th state to implement a ban on same-sex marriage.

But with gay marriage continuing to be a topic of conversation in the sociopolitical sphere -- and with legislative battles still raging -- it's paramount to examine where the nation stands on the issue as a whole.

On Tuesday, Gallup released its annual research results that explore the American peoples' views on gay marriage. Last year, The Blaze analyzed the 2011 numbers, which found for the first time since Gallup began asking questions about same-sex marriage, that more than 50 percent of the American public supported legalizing gay unions (53 percent to be exact).

(Related: Biden: I Am ‘Absolutely Comfortable’ With Same-Sex Marriage)

Considering the ongoing fight for marriage equality, one would expect to see this proportion of support continue to rise. Consider, for instance, the way the numbers have changed over the past 15 years. In 1996, only 27 percent of the nation supported gay marriage. By 2004, this proportion had grown to 42 percent. With last year's growth, it seemed as though pro-same-sex marriage sentiment was only headed upward.

But Gallup's 2012 research actually shows a minor decline in this sentiment. While support dropped three points to 50 percent, the results provide a mixed bag when it comes to the overall landscape. Gallup has more:

Fifty percent of Americans believe same-sex marriages should be recognized by law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages -- down slightly from 53% last year, but marking only the second time in Gallup's history of tracking this question that at least half of Americans have supported legal same-sex marriage. Forty-eight percent say such marriages should not be legal.

Considering well-known trends, the partisan breakdown surrounding the issue of gay marriage isn't surprising. While nearly two-thirds of Democrats support legalization and more than half (57 percent) of Independents agree, Republicans are the least supportive. In the same study, which was conducted from May 3 through the 6, only 22 percent of GOP adherents report supporting same-sex unions.

And when it comes to faith -- which is yet another stark determinant of opinion on this complex issue -- Gallup found the non-religious to be the most accepting of gay marriage (88 percent said it should be legal). Additionally, a pattern of rejection can be seen among churchgoers. The more someone attends a house of worship, the less likely it appears that he or she is willing to say that gay marriage should be legalized.

This research is timely, seeing as President Barack Obama is reportedly slated to clarify his views on same-sex marriage today in an interview with ABC News. While there's no way to know for sure, many sources are speculating that the president will come out in support of gay unions.

Gallup interviewed 1,024 random Americans for this study, which has a maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. 

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