Texas voters are not ready to say “I do” but they are warming up to recognizing gay and lesbian relationships.

Texas Lyceum's third annual poll reveals that Texans support legalizing gay unions by a whopping 57%. But when asked specifically about gay marriage, only a quarter of respondents agreed.

Pollsters asked respondents their opinion on granting civil unions for gay couples and gay marriage.  They did not include a domestic partnership, a vague term that in Cleveland grants zero guaranteed benefits but nearly equates with marriage in Washington State.

Thirty-six percent of self-identified Democrats support gay marriage, the poll found, compared to only 14% of Republicans. However, Republicans remain a majority in Texas.

“This change in attitude is a positive outcome, but it is critical that we continue to support leaders in the private and public sector, and we continue to educate them about our relationships and the equality they deserve,” said Paul E. Scott, executive director of Equality Texas, a group that lobbies the Texas Legislature for gay rights, in a post on the group's blog.

“Seeing that a majority support some form of legal recognition, our elected officials should not be afraid to work for pro-equality measures like hospital visitation, medical decision authority, employment/housing/public accommodation nondiscrimination, competitive benefit plans, and safe schools for all children,” he added.

In 2005, a large majority (76%) of Texans voted in favor of placing a gay marriage ban in the Texas constitution. The amendment bans both gay marriage and civil unions.