A year after Illinois approved civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, support for marriage equality has increased in the state.

According to a poll by Southern Illinois University's Simon Public Policy Institute, 44 percent of Illinois voters support legalizing gay marriage. That's an increase of 10 points from two years ago. Twenty percent remain opposed to such unions – a decrease of 6 percent.

A large majority (76%) support either marriage (44%) or civil unions (32%) for gay couples.

“We are thrilled and amazed that such a huge shift in public opinion related to marriage equality has occurred in just two years,” Randy Hannig, director of public policy for Equality Illinois, told Chicago Pride. “As more and more gay and lesbian people courageously come out to their friends, family and coworkers, we continue to witness a change in perception from our straight loved ones who better understand our fight for true equality.”

A bill which would legalize gay nuptials in Illinois is backed by openly gay Rep. Greg Harris, a Democrat from Chicago, and could be considered during a lame-duck session of the Legislature in January. Governor Pat Quinn has endorsed the proposed legislation.