Should Gay Marriage Be Legal in the Entire United States?

New York's Marriage Equality Act goes into effect July 24.

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Starting July 24, New York’s clerk’s offices will open their doors to same-sex couples ready to wed. For gay marriage advocates, the state’s Marriage Equality Act is a step closer to equal civil rights, but for opponents, the move is a step away from preserving the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, something held dear in many Jewish, Christian, Mormon, and other religious communities.

As New York is predicting a wedding tourism boom from same-sex couples who may travel to the Empire State to tie the knot, and as California’s gay marriage ban works its way up to the Supreme Court, the larger debate heats up: Should gay marriage be legal in every state? [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on gay marriage.]

The issue is highly personal to those on both sides, and it often devolves into gay marriage advocates calling detractors “religious extremists,” and opponents coming off as (or, in some cases, actually being) intolerant or even hateful of those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

Some, like U.S. News blogger and gay marriage supporter Brad Bannon, say national legalization is likely to happen, anyway, based on the fact that young Americans are increasingly OK with it. A May Gallup poll indicates that, for the first time since the organization started tracking the issue in the ‘90s, a majority of Americans think gay marriage should be legal, with the same rights as traditional marriage. Only 39 percent of Americans 55 and older support gay marriage legalization, but a whopping 70 percent of those ages 18 to 34 do, compared to 54 percent in the same age group in 2010. “Demography is destiny,” Bannon writes.

What do you think? Should gay marriage be legal in the entire United States? Take the poll and post your (civil, please) thoughts below.

This poll is now closed, but the debate continues in the comments section.

Previously: Was the Casey Anthony verdict the right one?