A recent survey conducted by Gallup has found that US public “tolerance” toward gay rights has made a bit of a comeback.

When Americans were first asked in 1977 whether gay relations should be legal, just 43 percent of respondents answered in the affirmative.

By the middle of 2003, the number had jumped to 60 percent, only to plummet (to 50 percent) after the Supreme Court struck down a Texas sodomy law in June of that same year.

Last year, the number of Americans who said gay relationships should be legal increased once again to 56 percent, and this year it reached 59 percent, similar to the 2003 high point.

According to the results of that most recent Gallop survey, s similar pattern can be seen when looking at attitudes about whether gayness should be sanctioned as an “acceptable alternative lifestyle.”

Only 34 percent of respondents in 1982 believed it should be considered acceptable, though the number improved to 54 percent in May 2003 (only to drop to 46 percent two months later).

Today’s 57 percent is the highest on record for this measure, according to an analysis of the survey posted to Gallop’s website.

According to that analysis, the trend in public support for gay marriage also shows a long-term increase in pro-gay rights attitudes, with the current result-46 percent in favour, 53 percent against-being the most affirming on record, though still the minority view.

Gallop stressed in its analysis that the gay-marriage question follows a number of questions about gay rights.

When the same question is asked in other Gallup surveys that do not include such questions, a lower level of support for gay marriage is usually found.

More generally, the most recent Gallop survey shows Americans’ tolerance for gay rights ranging from 89 percent believing gays should have equal rights in terms of job opportunities, down to 46 percent saying marriages between same-sex couples should be as legally valid as traditional marriages.

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