President Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage aligns with young voters and women, poll shows

President Obama’s endorsement of legal same-sex marriage is likely to resonate with young voters and women, two blocs where Obama is already strong, a new Gallup poll indicates.

Gallup on Monday published more detailed results of its annual Values and Beliefs survey, which last week showed 50 percent of Americans believe gay marriage should be legal. Support among voters between the ages of 18 and 34 is at 66 percent—19 points higher than in the 35 to 54 age group.

The gap between men and women is 14 points, with 56 percent of female voters saying they support legal same-sex marriage.

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Earlier polls showed before the president’s announcement that he already held comfortable leads over his likely Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, among young voters and women.

The Gallup poll revealed other divides. While 53 to 56 percent of voters in the East, West and Midwest say gay marriage should be legal, only 40 percent say the same in the South.

Support for legal same-sex marriage stands at 39 percent among Protestants, 51 percent among Catholics and 84 percent among non-Christians.

Almost across the board, the poll showed Americans’ belief in the moral acceptability of gay and lesbian relations outpaces their support for same-sex marriage.

The marriage hurdle is particularly high for Catholics and Republicans. While only a slight majority of Catholics back legal gay marriage, almost two-thirds say same-sex relations are morally acceptable. Republicans, at 22 percent, have the lowest rate of same-sex marriage support among all subgroups studied by Gallup, but 36 percent of them have no moral objection to gay and lesbian relations.

Nationally, 54 percent say same-sex relations are morally acceptable.