During a segment on MSNBC's Hardball, R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans, insisted Republicans are coming around on gay marriage despite the findings of a Gallup poll suggesting otherwise.

The poll released on Friday found that a majority (53%) of Americans support the legalization of gay marriage. Seven out of ten people under the age of 35 supported gay marriage, but 60% of Americans over 55 objected to the institution.

The poll's authors noted another divide: “Republicans in particular seem fixed in their opinions; there was no change at all in their support level this year, while independents' and Democrats' support jumped by double-digit margins.” According to Gallup, 28% of Republicans support gay marriage.

Cooper tried to dress things up a bit, saying young people in the party were moving toward greater acceptance of gay rights in general.

“Anecdotally, just last Congress, when we did lobbying with Republican offices with staffers and members on repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' the majority of staff were for repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' which did not match up with their members of Congress. So we would say 95 percent of the Hill staffers we lobbied said, 'Hey, I'm with you, just help me convince my boss to vote for repeal on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' We've seen this with young Republicans, college Republicans, essentially the younger voters. This is 18 to 34 demographic we're talking about.”

Citing previous surveys, Cooper added: “Most Republicans do support some sort of legal recognition [for gay and lesbian couples].”

David Smith of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a left-leaning gay rights group, backed Cooper: “There's some green shoots in the Republican Party on the issue of marriage equality. You have Ken Mehlman, the former RNC chairman, in support, actually very active raising money for marriage equality. In New York state you have John McCain's campaign manager Steve Schmidt in support of marriage equality. You have the Cheney family. There is a lot of encouragement in terms of within the Republican Party for support. Even though the House Republican leadership, which tends to be on the far right, is defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a very vociferous way, there is encouragement and we should really cling to the positive and encourage more Republicans to be supportive because clearly the American people are siding on the side of fairness.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page.)

Mehlman came out gay last year to raise funds for the case challenging California's gay marriage ban, Proposition 8. Schmidt, who has a lesbian sister, has argued that gay marriage is a conservative value. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has offered tepid support, has a daughter who is gay, Mary Cheney.