A new poll finds a narrow plurality of Virginians opposed to the legalization of gay marriage.

According to the survey by the University of Mary Washington (UMW) Center for Leadership and Media Studies, 45 percent of respondents favor marriage equality, while 46 percent remain opposed. Nine percent refused to answer.

In 2006, voters approved an amendment to Virginia's constitution defining marriage as a heterosexual union by a 57-43 margin.

“Rarely does public opinion shift on a social issue as rapidly as it has for gay marriage,” Stephen Farnsworth, director of the university's Center for Leadership and Media Studies, told the Eagle Eye, an UMW newsletter. “While opposition to gay marriage remains stronger here than nationally, the rapid erosion of that opposition among Virginians in the years since the 2006 amendment is astonishing.”

The shift in Virginia appears to be generational. While a majority of people under the age of 44 support gay nuptials (66 percent for those under 30, 54 percent for those 30-44), people 45 and older remain strongly opposed (56 percent for those 45-65, 65 percent for those 65 and over).

Sixty-one percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Hispanics surveyed favor marriage equality, while 71 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of African-Americans remain opposed.