A majority of New Jersey voters support gay marriage, a new poll found.

According to the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute's poll of 1,460 registered voters, 53 percent of respondents believe gay and lesbian couples should have the right to marry, while 42 percent say they should not.

It is the first time the Quinnipiac poll has reported support over 50 percent. An April 2009 survey found 49 percent of voters in favor.

“Democrats are making same-sex marriage their big opening issue and New Jersey voters support them,” said poll director Maurice Carroll in reporting the findings. “There are demographic splits – Catholics are more supportive than Protestants. All groups support same-sex civil unions. Most groups support allowing same-sex couples to adopt children, while black voters are divided on that issue.”

Majorities of New Jersey voters do not believe that gay marriage is a threat to heterosexual marriage (65%) and think that denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marry is discriminatory (53%).

Carroll added that younger voters are most supportive of marriage equality.

The poll conducted between January 10 – 16 has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.