Maira Garcia (R) and Maria Vargas wait on line to get married at the Brooklyn City Clerk's office in New York City in July. Washington's state Senate cleared its same-sex marriage bill Wednesday night, which is expected to pass in the House as early as next week. Washington will be the seventh state to legalize gay marriage.
Credit: Mario Tama

Half of Americans support legalizing same-sex marriage, a slight drop from last year but the second year in a row that a majority of the country believes gay marriages should be recognized by law.

The new Gallup poll comes as North Carolina voters go to the polls Tuesday on a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, effectively banning same-sex marriage and civil unions, Reuters reported.

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According to the survey, 50 percent of Americans say that same sex marriages should be recognized as legal, with 48 percent saying such marriages should not be legal.

That is down slightly from 53 percent support in last year's Gallup poll, which was the first year dating to 1996 that a majority supported legalizing same sex marriages, according to CNN.

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Like the other polls, the new Gallup survey indicates a partisan divide on the issue, with almost two-thirds of Democrats and 57 percent of independents but just 22 percent of Republicans supporting legalizing same-sex marriages, CNN reported.

The poll comes two days after Vice President Joe Biden said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he was "absolutely comfortable" with the idea of gay unions.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan later said publicly that he believes gay marriage should be legal.

The statements put even more pressure on President Barack Obama to change his stance on the issue. The president has stopped short of supporting same-sex marriage but has described his position on the issue as evolving, according to Reuters.

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