A majority of Republicans support either marriage or civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, a poll found.

The survey released last week by Public Policy Polling found 51 percent of Republican voters believe in government recognition of gay unions.

Twelve percent of respondents said they favor full marriage, 39% support civil unions, and 48% believe gay couples should not be recognized.

“To put the 51% of Republicans who support legal recognition for gay couples into perspective, that's higher than the 45% who approve of the job John Boehner's doing as Speaker of the House,” Public Policy Polling's Tom Jensen said in announcing the poll.

A majority of Tea Party Republicans (57%) oppose giving gay couples any legal recognition. However, 60% of Republicans who don't consider themselves part of the Tea Party support gay unions (16% marriage, 44% civil unions).

Opposition is more likely among middle -to -low income Republicans who make less than $50,000. But nearly a quarter (24%) of those making over $100,000 support marriage equality.

The telephone survey was conducted over 3 months starting in March and included over 1,000 self-identified GOP voters.