WASHINGTON – A new Gallup poll finds that a majority of American want to legalize same sex marriage for the first time, the latest of many recent surveys reflecting a sea change in public opinion on the divisive issue.

Fifty-three percent said they believe marriages between same sex couples should be legal, the annual survey found Friday. Forty-five percent disagreed.

Last year, 44 percent supported same sex marriage while 53 percent were opposed.

The increase has come entirely from self-identified Democrats and independents, whose support jumped by 13 and 10 points, respective, in the last year. Republican support was unchanged.

The yearly poll featured interviews with 1,018 randomly selected American across all states between May 5-8, 2011, and has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.