A new poll has revealed that, despite rising support for equal marriage overall across the US, voters in the state of Virginia still marginally oppose it.

In 2006, 57% of voters in Virginia passed Question One, which banned equal marriage in the state. The language used for the instruction said that the state “shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals.”

The question also ruled out the possibilities of civil unions in the state.

The latest poll from the University of Mary Washington Center for Leadership and Media Studies, asked 1,004 on their opinions on equal marriage.

When asked the question “Do you favor or oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally in Virginia?”, 45% said they favoured while 46% said the opposed the idea.

5% said they didn’t know and 4% refused to answer the question.

Stephen Farnsworth, the poll’s organiser said: “As a group, African-Americans were most critical of same sex marriage, with 40 percent supporting same-sex marriage legalization and 54 percent opposing it. Hispanic respondents were most supportive, with 64 percent supporting gay marriage and 34 percent opposing. For whites, 50 percent oppose gay marriage and 46 percent support it.”

The Supreme Court Justices on Wednesday indicated a possible interest in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), as it heard arguments around the issue.

This was the second day of hearings, as Tuesday the court heard arguments around Proposition 8, the state of California’s ban on equal marriage. Then the justices questioned the meaning of marriage, and challenged arguments for the ban. 

A decision by the Supreme Court in both cases is expected by the end of June.

If the Supreme Court does not rule that it is a constitutional right that gay couples should be allowed to marry, states such as Virginia would need to pass another voter-approved measure to reverse its ban on equal marriage.

Earlier in March, a survey conducted in the US revealed support for same-sex marriage had grown overall to be a “mirror image” of ten years ago, with the majority now in favour of legalisation and many calling for a nationwide law.

The poll found that 58% of Americans now support the legalisation of same-sex marriage, while 36% oppose it.

A Pew Research Center poll was released last year, which suggested that there has been a new, and rapid shift in support of equal marriage in the US, except in some southern states.