The trend is clear: more and more people are supporting the right of gay couples to marry.

Polls show that support for same-sex marriage has increased two or three percentage points each year since about 2004. Currently an average of about 50 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage rights, and 45 percent oppose them, according to surveys conducted in the last year.

In that sense, then, President Barack Obama’s announcement Wednesday that he supports same-sex marriage could be viewed as a typical progression of the government responding to the views of voters. Though it was a historic announcement about a highly emotional issue, it would have been riskier several years ago.

Still — putting aside whether the political move could win Obama support from some independent and young voters or whether it will galvanize conservatives — it is the morally right thing to do.

If a couple is in a committed relationship and wants to marry, it should be their civil right. Heterosexual married couples lose nothing by having states recognize the legal ability of a same-sex couple to say “I do.”

Maine could become the first state where voters approve same-sex marriage, as it’s set to vote for the second time on the issue in November. In 2009, Mainers voted 53-47 percent to overturn a law allowing same-sex marriage.

If the trend of growing support continues, it’s likely only a matter of time before faithful couples will be able to marry regardless of their sex.