06/16/2015 04:02 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Age, Race, Religion, and More: A Breakdown On Who's In Favor Of Same-Sex Marriage

As the Supreme Court gets ready to decide a landmark case on the legalization of same-sex marriage, plenty of older Americans remain against the idea.

The latest polling from Pew Research shows that 57 percent of Americans favor same-sex marriage and only 39 oppose it. Only five years ago, 42 percent supported and 48 percent opposed it.

That's a huge change.

Part of that, certainly, is people changing their opinion, but some of it may be the dying off of older Americans who maintain that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

The oldest Americans have a ways to catch up with their children and grandchildren when it comes to the issue. Meanwhile, the latest survey shows that Baby Boomers -- those 51 to 69 -- are pretty fairly divided over the issue with 45 percent favoring it and 48 percent opposed.

But those who are even older opposed same-sex marriage in greater numbers. The Silent Generation, which includes those 70 to 87, recorded 53 percent in opposition compared to 39 percent who favor same-sex marriage. The survey didn't question anyone older than that.

The support is lead by Millennials, those 18 to 34, with 73 percent in favor of same-sex marriage. It drops to 59 percent for Gen Xers, those 35 to 50.

Pew says this is the highest level of support for same-sex marriage in 20 years, and if the Supreme Court legalizes it as many court observers expect, that support is likely to grow, especially among the oldest Americans.

That would probably even take the issue off the table for the 2016 presidential election. Although that doesn't mean the issue isn't a partisan one, because it is.

The breakdown shows that 65 percent of Democrats and 34 percent of Republicans favor same-sex marriage. Independents break the same way as Democrats on the issue.

No matter their personal opinion, more than 70 percent of Americans think same-sex marriage across the country is inevitable.

The support of same-sex marriage varies by race, too, with 59 percent of whites and 56 percent of Hispanics in favor, but only 41 percent of blacks in favor.

The strongest support comes from those with college degrees, with backing around 70 percent, while only 49 percent of those with a high school degree or less supporting it.

Those who are the most religious oppose same-sex marriage the most, with 70 percent of white evangelical Protestants saying that's the case. But some 56 percent of Catholics now support same-sex marriage.

What's likely the reason for the change in attitude? The Pew survey found that some 88 percent now say they know someone who is gay or lesbian. In 1993, only 61 percent say they knew someone who is gay.

The study found that 73 percent of those who know someone who is gay support same-sex marriage and that 59 percent of those who don't know any oppose the issue.

It goes to show you that the more people intermingle and get to know each other, the more accepting we are.

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