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Gay Marriage Support Increasing Among Students

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A new report shows that support for same-sex marriage among college freshmen has increased by nine percentage points in the past decade.

According to the Higher Education Research Institute, acceptance of gay marriage is higher among first-year students than almost all other groups sorted by race, religion, and political leanings.

Sixty-five percent of college freshmen surveyed last fall support gay marriage, up from 56% in 2000. Since the survey began asking about the topic in 1997, research indicates that support for same-sex marriage has jumped 21 percentage points among left-leaning students, 16 percentage points among politically moderate students, and two percentage points among right-leaning students.

Evan Wolfson, executive director of the pro-marriage equality group Freedom to Marry, pointed to personal experience as a source of growing support among students. "Young people who know gay people, talk with them, and examine why marriage matters in the lives of real people move in support," he told the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Conversely, the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, Glenn Stanton, told the publication, "Typically, across the board, young people tend to be more liberal or progressive. As they get older ... they really start to see the world in a different way."

He said he finds support of same-sex marriage among students to be weak as he travels to campuses to promote his organization's conservative views, describing the support as "not well formed or articulated in their minds."

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