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U.S. public evenly split on whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional right

A new poll found that support for same-sex marriage has dipped slightly in the United States since last year, with the biggest decline among those older than 50.

By Frances Burns
Plaintiffs in the California Proposition 8 case, Paul Katami and his partner Jeff Zarrillo and Sandy Stier and her partner Kris Perry celebrate on the steps of the Supreme Court after the Court delivered their rulings in two same-sex marriage cases, on june 26, 2013 in Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court ruled DOMA unconstitutional, allowing married same-sex couples to federal benefits, and declining to decide on the California Proposition 8 same-sex marriage case. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/3a1c674daab5074402619aa597044f01/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Plaintiffs in the California Proposition 8 case, Paul Katami and his partner Jeff Zarrillo and Sandy Stier and her partner Kris Perry celebrate on the steps of the Supreme Court after the Court delivered their rulings in two same-sex marriage cases, on june 26, 2013 in Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court ruled DOMA unconstitutional, allowing married same-sex couples to federal benefits, and declining to decide on the California Proposition 8 same-sex marriage case. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

WASHINGTON, June 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. public is split on whether the Constitution gives same-sex couples the right to marry, a Washington Post/ABC poll released Friday reported.

Fifty percent of those surveyed agreed with federal judges who have found recently that the Equal Protection clause requires that gay and lesbian people be allowed to tie the knot. Another 43 percent said it does not, while the rest were unsure.

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In states that continue to ban same-sex marriage, 45 percent said it has constitutional protection and 48 percent disagreed. But even in those states, half said same-sex couples should be able to marry.

In the country as a whole, 56 percent support same-sex marriage and 38 percent oppose it. While public support has generally risen since Massachusetts became the first state where same-sex couples could marry legally 10 years ago, it has dipped slightly since last year, with the largest declines among those older than 50.

In the youngest group, those 18 to 29, more than 75 percent believe same-sex marriage should be legal.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, bans have been challenged in many states. In Pennsylvania and Oregon, state officials have declined to appeal judges' rulings overturning the bans, while other cases are on hold pending appeal or have not yet been decided.

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