NEW YORK (KMOX) — As the Supreme Court begins to hear oral arguments in two high-profile cases, California’s Proposition 8 and the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, a slight majority of Americans (53%) thinks it should be legal for same-sex couples to marry.

Although public opinion on this topic has been consistent for the last few months, it has changed markedly from as recently as a year ago. In May 2012, just after President Barack Obama announced his support for same sex marriage, 51% of Americans said it should not be legal for same-sex couples to marry.

(Read CBS Poll)

  • 53% of Americans think same-sex marriage should be legal, while 39% think it should not be legal. Reflecting how views have shifted, a third of those who now support legal same-sex marriage say they once thought it should be illegal.
  • Six in 10 Americans think the federal government should legally recognize existing same-sex marriages and provide the same benefits to same sex couples as it does to heterosexual couples.
  • While a third thinks being gay or lesbian is a choice, 53% think it is something one cannot change, up from 43% twenty years ago.
  • 51% of Americans think the Boy Scouts should allow openly gay members.

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