A majority of Michigan residents support the legalization of gay marriage, a new poll has found.

According to Michigan State University's (MSU) State of the State Survey, 56 percent of respondents say they support marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples, while 39 percent remain opposed.

It is the first poll to show a majority of Michigan residents in favor of such unions.

A 2010 State of the State Survey found 48 percent in favor and 51 percent opposed. A more recent June Public Policy Polling survey of 500 Michigan voters found 41 percent of respondents in favor of marriage equality.

“Support for gay marriage has increased in recent years, in Michigan and across the country,” said Charles Ballard, an economics professor at MSU who led the survey. “Although a majority of Michigan residents favored gay marriage in this survey, there remain substantial differences among different groups.”

The survey results come just weeks after voters in three states – Maryland, Maine and Washington state – legalized marriage equality at the ballot box, and Minnesotans rejected an effort to ban it.