A survey of New Jersey voters has found that a slim majority are opposed to legalising gay marriage.

The research, carried out by Quinnipiac University, found that 49 per cent of 1,615 voters were opposed, with 46 per cent in favour. The remainder were unsure.

This contrasts with a similar poll carried out by the university in April which found that 49 per cent were in favour and 43 per cent opposed the move. The margin of error was 2.4 percentage points in the latest survey.

As is often the case, the poll found higher levels of support among Democrats, women, Jews and younger voters.

Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said: “When we asked about gay marriage in April, it won narrow approval. Now that it seems closer to a legislative vote, it loses narrowly with the public.”

Democratic lawmakers in the state are currently considering a gay marriage bill but have not yet decided to let it come before a vote.

Seventy-four per cent of those in favour said the State Legislature should pass the bill now so Governor Jon Corzine, a supporter, can pass it.

Governor-elect Chris Christie has said he will veto the bill.

In September, Republican politicians in New Jersey called for a constitutional amendment in 2010 to allow voters to decide whether gay marriage should be legal.

If successful, the move would see the issue on the November 2010 ballot, with voters being asked whether they favoured a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.