Forty-two percent of Americans live in states that in some form recognize the unions of gay and lesbian couples.

The survey released by the gay rights group Equality Matters shows that 19 states and the District of Columbia have approved laws that recognize gay unions.

Gay marriage is legal in five states – Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont – and the District of Columbia, covering 7 percent of the American population. Another 7 states – Hawaii, Illinois, California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington – offer gay couples similar rights to marriage with civil unions or domestic partnerships. Nearly 30 percent of Americans live in these 13 states.

Wisconsin, Rhode Island, New York, Maryland, Maine and Colorado also offer domestic partnerships, but these laws only offer a limited set of benefits.

New Mexico recognizes the out-of-state marriages of gay and lesbian couples but bans all other forms of recognition.

“These statistics are incredibly significant,” the survey's authors said in releasing their findings. “Despite the best efforts of anti-gay groups and politicians, the LGBT community has made rapid progress across the United States.”

Legislation that would legalize gay marriage in Rhode Island and Washington has been introduced, while Delaware and Colorado are considering civil unions. An effort for marriage failed earlier this year in Maryland.