A majority of American adults say the relationships of gay men and lesbians are morally acceptable, a new survey has found.

When New Jersey-based pollster Gallup asked, “Do you personally believe gay or lesbian relations are morally acceptable or morally wrong?” a narrow majority (54%) of respondents said “morally acceptable.”

Public acceptance of gay unions as morally acceptable has increased 16 percentage points since 2002.

A majority (63%) of Americans also said gay sex should be legal, a 31 point increase since 1986 when 57 percent supported outlawing such relations. Thirty-one percent today remain opposed.

Young people aged 18 to 34, Democrats and nonreligious Americans are more supportive of gay rights than their counterparts. Majorities in each group believe gay sex should be legal, gay relationships are morally acceptable and support legalizing gay marriage.

Among Christians, Catholics are more supportive than Protestants: 68 percent of Catholics say gay relations should be legal, 66 percent say they are morally acceptable, and 51 percent support marriage equality.

Americans are divided on whether being gay is an immutable characteristic, with 40 percent saying people are born gay and 35 percent disagreeing.