A poll has shown that over half of Virginians now support equal marriage, despite the state voting strongly to ban the measure in 2006.

A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was adopted in the state just eight years ago, passing at the time with 57 percent of the vote.

According to Reuters, a new poll conducted by researchers at Quinnipiac University showed that over 50 percent of voters in Virginia now back same-sex marriage, with just 42 percent opposed it.

The strongest support is among voters aged 18 to 29, of whom 69 percent back marriage, with just 25 percent opposed.

The poll found that women support the measure by 54 percent in favour to 38 percent against, while men still marginally oppose it by 48 percent against to 46 in favour.

On Friday opponents of the same-sex marriage filed their appeal brief, ahead of the appeals court date in May.

Lawyers are alleging that Judge Arenda Wright Allen did not have the authority to override the ban when she struck it down last month.

David Oakley, attourney for one of the defendants wrote: “The trial court correctly found marriage is a fundamental right.

“However, the trial court overstepped its authority in declaring this fundamental right extended so far as to override the state’s authority to regulate the definition of marriage.”

Same-sex marriages in the state cannot begin until the appeals process has concluded.