May 3 (UPI) -- A majority of voters in 44 states approve of same-sex marriage, according to a new poll by the nonprofit Public Religion Research Institute.
The findings, released Tuesday, reveal more than six in 10 respondents support gay marriage. Thirty percent of respondents said they don't approve of same-sex marriage.
Approval of same-sex marriage has grown over the last decade and has increased substantially since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that same-sex couples have a right to marry.
In 2007, 13 percent of the public strongly favored same-sex marriage, while nearly one-quarter (24 percent) were strongly opposed.
Same-sex marriage approval is growing across all ethnic, political and religious groups. The survey found 63 percent of white, 52 percent of black and 61 percent of Latino Americans approve of gay marriage. Seventy-three percent of Democrats support same-sex marriage, followed by 66 percent of independents and 42 percent of Republicans.
Of the major religious groups, 67 percent of white protestants and 66 percent of white Catholics support same-sex marriage, while 65 percent of Hispanic Catholics and 66 percent of Orthodox Christians approve.
Numbers also reveal 51 percent of Muslims, 80 percent of Buddhists, 77 percent of Jews and 75 percent of Hindus approve of same-sex marriage.
Only six states have approval rates of under 50 percent: Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, West Virginia, Louisiana and North Carolina. The most supportive states come from the New England area: Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine.
The extensive survey was conducted in 2017, interviewing more than 40,000 people by telephone or cell phone during an eight-month period. The margin of error for the sample is 1.2 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.