A new poll has found that a majority of US voters think the Boy Scouts of America should drop its ban on gay scouts, volunteers and staff.

The Quinnipiac University poll, which surveyed 1,772 people by telephone between 30 January and 4 February, found that 55% of people thought the BSA should lift the ban, whilst only 33% thought the ban should be retained.

The research signalled a large gender gap with women wanting to see the ban dropped 61% to 27% while men supported allowing gay people to join the boy scouts 49% to 39%.

“Now that the armed forces ban on openly gay service members has been lifted, and polls show increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage, most American voters think it’s time to open up the Boy Scouts too,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Quinnipiac University said in a statement that: “White Catholics support gay scouts 63 – 25 percent. Among white Protestants, 44 percent say open up scouting and 41 percent say no. White evangelical Protestants oppose gay scouts 56 – 33 percent.”

Religious opposition to the lifting of the ban noted that out of 2.7 million members across the US, around 70% of Boy Scout groups are hosted by churches and other faith-based groups, including the Catholic and Mormon churches

The poll had a margin of error of 2.3 percentage points

The Boy Scouts of American today delayed a vote on whether or not to lift a ban on gay scouts, volunteers and staff, until May “due to the complexity of the issue”.

The argument had been heating up on both sides of the debate on whether or not the Scouts should drop the national ban, which would effectively mean individual scout troops could decide on whether to be inclusive of gay members or not.

The vote by the BSA is expected to consult 1,400 voting members during its annual meeting in May.

President Barack Obama said on Sunday that he thought gay people should be allowed in the Boy Scouts of America, and that “nobody should be barred” from the experience of being a scout.

On Monday, a rally delivered a petition with 1.4 million signatures pushing for the Boy Scouts of America to drop the ban.

Texas Governor Rick Perry, however, said last week that he though the Boy Scouts of America shouldn’t remove the ban.

Earlier this week, the head of a Christian legal firm in the US said that the reason that the Boy Scouts of America may make moves towards dropping its ban on gay scouts was “spiritual pressure” from Satan.

Last week one US radio host said the scouts should “shut down” rather than allow gays in, and that these are signs of the “end times”, and another said that allowing gay scout masters would allow “gay activists” to “spread deviant sexuality”.

A father of two from Brooklyn, New York, recently started his own Boy Scouts troop, inclusive of gay members, and girls, to allow his son to be a member without having to accept the Boy Scouts of America’s anti-gay policy.