For years, backers of same-sex marriage have said more voters would support it if only they could hear directly from gay people with a personal stake in the issue. A new academic study bears out that hunch.

In an article released Thursday by Science magazine, researchers from Columbia University and the University of California-Los Angeles detail a study which found that openly gay canvassers were far more effective than straight canvassers in shifting voters' views toward support for same-sex marriage.

According to the study, opinion changes produced by the straight canvassers tended to fade within a few weeks and those voters reverted to their previous views. Changes produced by the gay canvassers persisted nine months later, and the attitude changes often spread to other members of the voters' households.