Barbara Bush, who started a nonprofit group focused on global health, rarely speaks out on American political issues, making her foray into the same-sex marriage debate so striking. But for years, those close to her say, she has surrounded herself with gay friends -- at Yale, where she was an undergraduate, and in New York City, where she worked in the design world. C. Brian Smith, a friend from college who is gay, recalled that the Yale Ms. Bush inhabited was filled with openly gay students and unbothered by questions about sexuality. "She had that mind-set," he said. "She was loved by the gay community at Yale."With her statement, Barbara Bush joins high-profile political daughter Meghan McCain as a voice against the sort of gay marriage bans advocated President Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). In so doing, she is expressing the values of her generation, HRC noted; 58 percent of Americans 18-29 support gay marriage, according to a 2010 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. A January 27 Quinnipiac University poll found 56 percent of New York State voters backed same-sex marriage, the highest level of support ever measured among state residents. A measure to legalize same-sex marriage failed in New York in 2009, but legislation on this front could be taken up by the state legislature again as early as this spring.
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