Opposition to legalizing marriage for gay and lesbian couples has fallen 17 percent since 2004, a new poll has found.

According to a survey released Thursday by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 47 percent of Americans support marriage equality, an increase of 16 percentage points since 2004, while 43 percent remain opposed, a decrease of 17 percentage points over the same period of time.

Strong support and strong opposition of the institution is now evenly divided.

People who say they strongly support the union has doubled from 11 to 22 percent in the last 8 years, while strong opposition has dropped 14 percentage points, from 36 to 22 percent.

When broken down by race, support among African Americans has dramatically increased from 26 to 39 percent in the last 4 years, while opposition has fallen 14 percent, from 63 to 49 percentage points since 2008. Support among whites has also increased, from 41 percent in 2008 to 47 percent in the current survey.

Majorities of Democrats (59%) and independents (52%) favor its legalization but Republicans remain opposed (68%).