When the Pew Research Centre conducted their annual poll examining people’s attitudes towards the gay community, they had a pleasant surprise. In every category support for gay people had increased.

On the thorny subject of gay marriage, 51% of the people questioned opposed it. This is a small but significant drop in objectors since 2004, when the poll reported that 63% of Americans were against it, many of whom “strongly objected”.

Michael Dimock, associate director of the Pew Research Centre said that gay marriage was still a very contentious issue .”A lot of people who opposed it then still oppose it now,” he said. Gradually, however, attitudes are becoming more liberal. In a poll in 1999 65% of people questioned were against gay marriage.

Adoption for gay couples is also hovering around the tipping point. The poll found that America was divided over the question, with 46% of nearly 2000 survey-takers in favour, while 48% opposed.

On the question of gay people serving in the military the survey takers were broadly in favour, with over 60% supporting the idea.

Dimock said: “it indicates that people are changing. They’re becoming more open and tolerant”.

More tolerant by very small increments, perhaps, but a shift towards greater tolerance nonetheless.