A majority of Americans support equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples, a CNN poll has found.

According to the survey released Wednesday, fifty-four percent of Americans support gay marriage and 42 percent remain opposed.

The number of respondents who said they have a close friend or family member who is gay has jumped to 60 percent, an 11 percentage point increase since 2000.

“Attitudes toward sexual orientation have also changed over that same time period,” said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “In 1998, a majority believed that someone who is gay or lesbian could change their sexual orientation if they choose to do so. Today, only a third feel that way, and the number who say that gays and lesbians cannot change their orientation is almost six in ten. Those shifts probably explain the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage.”

Seventy percent of Democrats and sixty percent of independents support gay nuptials, while 72 percent of Republicans remain opposed. A majority (55%) of those over 50 oppose marriage equality, while nearly two-thirds of those under 50 favor its legalization.

The poll, conducted by ORC International from May 29-31, questioned 1,009 adults by telephone.