WASHINGTON -- Two years ago, President Barack Obama was not quite ready to say, as he did Wednesday, that he supports same sex marriage, but he conceded at the time that "attitudes evolve, including mine." In a question and answer session with progressive bloggers in October 2010, Obama was quoted by Americablog's Joe Sudbay saying "it's pretty clear where the trendlines are going."

If the president was thinking of the trends in public opinion polls, his read was dead-on. Surveys by various national media pollsters have shown a consistent, ongoing trend toward support of same-sex marriage, with slightly more Americans offering support than opposition in measurements taken over the past year.

For example, a just completed national Gallup poll fielded May 3-6 shows 50 percent in support of same-sex marriage and 48 percent opposed, slightly down from 53 percent support a year ago. As Gallup explained, the latest result marks "only the second time in Gallup's history of tracking this question" that support exceeded opposition.

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Similarly, three surveys conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News since May 2011 have shown from 51 percent to 53 percent of Americans saying it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to marry, with 43 percent to 45 percent saying it should be illegal.

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Polls conducted by the Pew Research Center show the same trends, with opposition to "allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally" falling from 60 percent to 43 percent since 2004, while support has increased from 31 percent to 43 percent.

A recent Pew Research report also shows that although black Americans are still more likely to oppose same-sex marriage than whites, the gap has narrowed significantly since 2008.

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In a recent New York Times column, Pew Research president Andrew Kohut noted that while "much of the growing support for gay marriage is generational," it also reflects changing opinion among older Americans. "Since 2004," Kohut writes, "support for gay marriage has increased from 30 percent to 40 percent among baby boomers, and even among seniors (from 18 percent to 32 percent)."

Kohut also argued that the shifts in attitudes change the "political prospects" for the issue, particularly because of what he described as a narrowing of the "partisan intensity" gap in recent years that has worked to the advantage of opponents of gay marriage. "Today there are almost as many strong supporters of gay marriage among Democrats (34 percent) as there are strong opponents among Republicans (40 percent)," Kohut wrote.

Whether Obama's embrace of same-sex marriage will further shift the intensity of opinion on this issue remains to be seen, but as the president observed nearly two years ago, the direction of the trends is clear.

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  • Mitt Romney

    "I believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman," Mitt Romney said.

  • Kyrsten Sinema

  • Daniel O'Donnell

  • Kirsten Gillibrand

  • Jeff Merkley

  • Elizabeth Warren

  • Michael Bloomberg

    "This is a major turning point in the history of American civil rights," said New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. "No American president has ever supported a major expansion of civil rights that has not ultimately been adopted by the American people - and I have no doubt that this will be no exception. The march of freedom that has sustained our country since the Revolution of 1776 continues, and no matter what setbacks may occur in a given state, freedom will triumph over fear and equality will prevail over exclusion. Today's announcement is a testament to the President's convictions, and it builds on the courageous stands that so many Americans have taken over the years on behalf of equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans, stretching back to the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village."

  • Jerrold Nadler

    "I applaud President Obama for announcing his support for marriage equality today," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) "For the first time in this nation's history, a sitting president has shown the courage and leadership to stand up for all American families by pledging to support the fundamental right of every person to marry the person they love, and to have that marriage fully respected. I commend President Obama for this brave and honest step. Those who seek to politicize civil rights for personal or political gain will certainly attack him, but the course toward marriage equality and justice is the correct and inevitable path."

  • Brad Lander

  • Fred Karger

    "I'm thrilled!" longshot GOP presidential candidate Fred Karger told HuffPost, referring to Obama's embrace of marriage equality. Karger is the first openly gay Republican or Democrat to run for president. "The Karger pressure has worked," he joked. "Particularly after the defeat in North Carolina, we welcome him to the full equality position."

  • Vince Gray

  • Martin O'Malley

  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen

  • Barack Obama

  • Mark Udall

  • Senator Chris Coons

  • Rep.George Miller

  • Jim Himes

  • Nancy Pelosi

  • Nita Lowey

    "I have been blessed to have a long and happy marriage. I strongly believe all Americans deserve that same opportunity," said Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.)

  • Antonio Villaraigosa

  • Jackie Speier

  • Michael Steele

  • Dennis Kucinich

  • John Brunner

  • Cory Booker

  • Chris Gregoire

  • Fred Karger

  • Ted Strickland

  • Jared Polis

  • Reince Priebus

    "While President Obama has played politics on this issue, the Republican Party and our presumptive nominee Mitt Romney have been clear. We support maintaining marriage between one man and one woman and would oppose any attempts to change that," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

  • Debbie Wasserman Schultz

  • Chellie Pingree

  • Christine C. Quinn

  • Mike Huckabee

    "Barack Obama just announced he supports same-sex marriage," Mike Huckabee wrote in a fundraising appeal to supporters. "Nancy Pelosi immediately jumped on the announcement and emailed Democrat activists nationwide promising to continue their fight. This is going to be a defining issue this election. Obama, Pelosi and the Democrats have been a complete failure on economic issues so now they are going to focus on issues that will rile up their base. Well, Mr. President it's going to rile up our folks also. Men and women who support traditional marriage."

  • Rep. Bill Taylor

  • Deval Patrick

  • Frank Lautenberg

    "President Obama's support for marriage equality marks an important moment for civil rights in America," said Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), who co-sponsored legislation that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). "We simply can not treat same sex couples as second-class citizens in our country. Marriage equality is one of the most significant civil rights battles of our time and is critical to guaranteeing the equal protection under the law promised to every American in the Constitution. The President's support for marriage equality should inspire Congress, Governors and state legislatures to advance civil rights for all Americans."

  • Allen West

  • Ann McLane Kuster

  • Sen. Patrick Leahy

  • Peter Welch

    "This is an historic moment and I applaud the President for his decision and courage," Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said. "One of the greatest and most liberating human emotions is acceptance. And what the President did today was accept that the quality of love two people share is more important than their gender. The President's decision required him look within and engage his heart. It is truly wonderful and welcome news."

  • Senator Patty Murray

  • Steve Rothman

    "As an early and strong proponent of Marriage Equality, I am very happy that President Obama has made this announcement," said Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) "Marriage Equality is a matter of basic human rights and all of America's same-sex families are now closer to having their unions recognized by our government. This is an important step in our country's march toward achieving true justice and equality for all."

  • Chuck Schumer

  • JackieForNH

  • Howard Dean

    "President Obama's public support for marriage equality is an historic affirmation of the fundamental American value of equal rights for all," said Howard Dean. "Having signed the nation's first law allowing Civil Unions as Governor of Vermont, I'm also proud to see our president affirm the belief that I and so many other Americans hold: loving and committed couples should have the same benefits that are extended through marriage. Marriage equality is a right and a benefit to all families."

  • Mike Quigley

  • Senator Ben Cardin

  • Sen. Barbara Boxer

  • Senator Dick Durbin