Poll: Majority of Republicans support rights for same-sex couples

A survey of more than 1,000 Republicans by Public Policy Polling shows that self-identified members of the party support legal rights for same-sex couples even if they aren't backing gay marriage.

PPP compiled the results from national polling in March, April and May. The findings come on the heels of four national polls showing the majority of the American public is in support of gay marriage for the first time.

The poll asked Republicans, "Which of the following best describes your opinion on gay marriage: gay couples should be allowed to legally marry, or gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions but not legally marry, or there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple's relationship?" Twelve percent said that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, 39 percent said they should be allowed civil unions, and 48 percent said that gay couples should have no legal rights. That means 51 percent of Republicans polled support relationship rights for same-sex couples.

Eighty-nine percent of liberal Republicans support either gay marriage (48 percent) or civil unions (41 percent). Fifty-seven percent of conservative Republicans said there should be no rights for same-sex couples. Still, 42 percent said there should be civil unions (35 percent) or full marriage (7 percent) for gay couples. That trend was almost identical among those that identify with the tea party.

Young Republicans were much more likely to support rights for same-sex couples. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, 56 percent supported either same-sex marriage or civil unions; among 30- to 45-year-olds, that number was 54 percent; 50 percent for 46- to 65-year-olds, and 48 percent for those over 65.

Republicans in the Midwest and the South were more likely to oppose rights for same-sex couples at 49 percent and 54 percent, respectively.

And the less money a family makes the more likely they were to oppose rights for same-sex couples. Fifty-seven percent of those making less than $30,000 a year opposed any rights for same-sex couples, while only 33 percent of those making more than $100,000 supported a complete ban on any rights. Thirty percent of those under $30,000 supported civil unions or same-sex marriage, while 66 percent of those making more than $100,000 support it.