A new poll by CNN has found that over half of Americans are in support of equal marriage, but that there are major generational and partisan divides, as well as a gender gap.

The survey, run by CNN and ORC International found that 53% of the American public thought that mariages between gay or lesbian couples should be legally recognised, with 44% against.

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said: “There are big differences among younger and older Americans, with the youngest age group twice as likely than senior citizens to support same-sex marriage.

“Women are also more likely to call for legal recognition of gay marriage than men. And only three in ten Americans who attend religious services every week support same-sex marriage while six in ten Americans who don’t attend church weekly feel that way.”

The poll also highlighted the partisan divide on the issue, with seven out of ten Democrats supporting equal marriage, and 55% of independent voters, but just a quarter of Republicans supporting it.

Marriage equality support reached 50% in spring 2011, and the number has grown from in the low to mid fifties since CNN began polling on the issue.

The poll was conducted between 15 and 17 March for CNN, with 1,021 adult Americans asked questions by telephone. The margin of error for the survey is three per cent.

Yesterday the former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, officially announced her support for equal marriage in a moving speech in which she called moves towards equality “breathtaking and inspiring”.

Another poll by ABC news revealed support for same-sex marriage had grown to be a “mirror image” of ten years ago, with the majority in favour of legalisation and many calling for a nationwide law.

This week a poll by an American Christian group found that 64% of respondents agreed that “it is inevitable that same-sex marriage will become legal throughout the United States,” while 80% disagree that employers should be allowed to discriminate based on sexual preference.

A poll of American Catholics this month revealed a similar growth of support, with 54% percent in favour of same-sex marriage, and 52% saying Church leaders were out of touch on gay rights.