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Nearly two-thirds of Americans expect the Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide when it rules on the issue within the next few weeks, according to a new poll.

Only 25 percent expect the high court to leave existing state bans on gay marriage intact, while 65 percent expect the bans to be overturned, according to the poll conducted by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute. Its nationwide survey of 1,009 adults was conducted from June 3 to June 7.

Mirroring the findings of several other recent national polls, the new survey found 55 percent of Americans in favor of allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, and 37 percent opposed.

Among those who oppose same-sex marriage, 72 percent say the decision about its legality should be made at the state level. Among those who favor same-sex marriage, 59 percent say the issue should be decided at the national level. At the moment, same-sex marriages are allowed in 36 states.

The survey found sharp divisions over same-sex marriage along religious lines. Majorities of religiously unaffiliated Americans (79 percent), white mainline Protestants (60 percent) and Catholics (58 percent) favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. But gay marriage was supported by only 29 percent of white evangelical Protestants and 35 percent of nonwhite Protestants.

The survey also asked about perceptions of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Three-quarters of Democrats, 61 percent of independents and 50 percent of Republicans said there is a lot of discrimination against transgender people.



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