Two recently released polls tell us what we may have instinctively already known for some time: Gay marriage approval remains in a virtual dead heat.

In fact, gay marriage appears to have wedged itself as our most divisive social issue, with some polls showing the country nearly evenly divided.

A new survey by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) reports only a one percent difference between those who approve of gay marriage in California and those who do not (47% approve, 48% do not). A larger national poll conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) arrived at a similar conclusion. That poll found gay marriage approval stalling out at 47%, while a slim majority disapproved (49%).

And while the GLAAD survey, titled the Pulse of Equality, showed a large majority (75%) of respondents favored legal recognition of gay unions, nearly 1 in 3 did not believe in gay marriage, opting instead for civil unions or domestic partnerships for gay couples.

A new Princeton Survey commissioned by Newsweek probed a bit deeper at the gay marriage question.

Newsweek's national survey found greater resistance to the acceptance of gay marriage. In that survey only 39% of respondents agreed that gay marriage should be legal, with a majority (55%) opposing.

An unexplained quirk shows a large number of people who believe gay marriage should be legal favor a national gay marriage ban.

When Newsweek asked, “Even though you told me you favor full marriage rights for same-sex couples ... would you favor or oppose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would BAN gay marriage IN ALL STATES?” a large number of respondents (43%) said they would favor banning gay marriage nationwide, with 52% opposing it. Keep in mind these are people who are in favor of gay marriage.

Two polls (Newsweek and GLAAD) found growing public support of rights often associated with marriage for gays and lesbians, fostering and adoption of children, inheritance rights, hospital visitation rights, and extending health insurance and other employee benefits to gays and lesbians included.

Both the Newsweek and GLAAD poll found a large majority (66% and 69%, respectively) of respondents agreeing with President-elect Barack Obama's pledge to repeal a current ban on gays serving openly in the military.

“Majorities of Americans clearly favor equality for gay and transgender people,” said GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano, “but we've seen that too many still mistakenly believe that the intolerance and injustice we face are things of the past. So it's more vital than ever that we tell our stories, illustrate the injustices we face, and remind people of the common ground we share.”

Still, it is gay marriage that remains most controversial. In New York, the Legislature is debating taking up the issue, while the Iowa Supreme Court begins hearing arguments that could possibly lead to gay marriage there, on Tuesday. And in California, the state Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to a highly controversial constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in the state, and may render a decision as early as March.

With two state Supreme Courts likely to rule on gay marriage in the coming year, public support for the issue will likely remain unchanged for the near future.