A new poll has found that, in the US, millennials are leading the push towards greater acceptance for equal marriage, which 70% saying the support marriage for same-sex couples.

The report by the Pew Research Center, found that in the US, 7 in 10 millennials, or those born since 1980, support legalising equal marriage for same-sex couples.

The national survey indicated that the percentage had risen from 51% since 2003, and that a large shift had taken place. millennials now represented a larger proportion of the overall population than a decade ago, representing 9% of the adult population in 2003, compared to 27% now.

Ten years ago, just 33% of Americans said they supported equal marriage, with 58% against, but in 2013, the numbers had switched with 49% in favour and 44% against.

It is not only the younger generation has shifted to support equal marriage, however, as 31% of those born between 1928 and 1945 now support equal marriage, compared to 17% before.

28% of equal marriage supporters, 14% of the adult population, said they had shifted their position to support equal marriage since ten years ago.

Out of those who had changed to support equal marriage, 32% said they shifted because they knew someone, a friend or family member, who was gay. A quarter said they had grown more accepting as they got older, and 18% said that it is inevitable because the world is just different now.

The same percentage, 18%, said they changed because they think people should be free to choose what makes them happy.

Going the other way, almost all opponents to equal marriage had already declared their opposition to it, with 41% out of 44% having always held the same view.

Despite 56% of Americans saying that equal marriage goes against their beliefs, which had dropped six points in ten years, two thirds said they thought gay people should have equal rights, with just 30% disagreeing.

The study was conducted between 13 and 17 March 2013, and questioned 1,501 adults across the US.