THE ARC OF HISTORY BENDS JUST A LITTLE MORE…. Public attitudes about the LGBT community have, slowly but surely, grown more progressive in recent decades. Tolerance and respect had nowhere to go but up, but attitudes have improved. With that in mind, a new Gallup poll is not only encouraging, it points to something of a breakthrough.

Asked about gay and lesbian relations, a majority of Americans, for the first time ever, believes the relations are morally acceptable. The number currently stands at 52%, an all-time high, while 43% consider the relations “morally wrong,” an all-time low.

To be sure, I’d prefer to see these numbers split 100% to zero. That 43% of Americans, in the 21st century, consider gay and lesbian relations immoral is embarrassing for the country. But it’s hard not to feel encouraged by the clear and obvious trend in the right direction. What’s more, much to the religious right’s chagrin, there’s no reason to think these numbers will ever reverse course.

We do, however, still have plenty of room for improvement. A narrow majority (53%) still opposes gay marriage, but 58% believe gay and lesbian relations should be legal. That, again, may sound painfully low, but that support has nearly doubled nationwide since the Reagan era.

Summarizing its findings, Gallup concluded that a “gradual cultural shift under way in Americans’ views toward gay individuals and gay rights. While public attitudes haven’t moved consistently in gays’ and lesbians’ favor every year, the general trend is clearly in that direction.”

With each passing year, Republicans’ ability to use LGBT issues as a divisive wedge gets a little more difficult. Good.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.