In California, Latino Catholics supportive of same-sex marriage

Really interesting info. in a recent poll on same-sex marriage, which was released this week. Latino Catholics are actually very supportive of marriage. That certainly runs counter to conventional wisdom. But, family matters:

Have Latino Catholics become the most progressive political group supporting gay rights in the U.S.? The casual observer of culture often perceives that Latino Catholics are one of the most conservative groups regarding family values and faith. Yet the Public Religion Research Institute’s July 21, 2010, report on “Religion and Same-Sex Marriage in California” found that Latino Catholics stand in sharp in contrast to many sectors of American public, especially Latino Protestants, illustrating the sharp effect of religion on Latino attitudes towards homosexuality and civil and human rights for the gay community. Regarding Latino Catholics the report, based on June 2010 polling of 3,351 California adults with oversamples for Latinos, highlights these two social dynamics:

• 57% of Latino Catholics would vote for the legalization of same-sex marriage compared to 22% of Latino Protestants

• Latino Catholics “say they trust the parents of gay and lesbian children more than their own clergy as a source of information about homosexuality.”

These two dynamics illustrate the new face of Latino Catholicism in California. According to the Pew Forum an estimated 31% of California’s population is Catholic. And of that between 40-50% is Latino. This Latino trend helps pull Catholic social attitudes, already more liberal than Protestants, towards greater support of gay rights.

The author of this Post column, Joseph M. Palacios, examines why.

Here are some “highlights” from the Public Religion Research Institute:

There are major religious groups on both sides of the debate over same-sex marriage in California. Solid majorities of Latino Catholics and white mainline Protestants say they would vote to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, while solid majorities of white evangelical Protestants, Latino Protestants, and African American Protestants say they would vote to keep same-sex marriage illegal.

An overwhelming majority of Californians, and majorities of all major religious groups except Latino Protestants, say they both favor laws that would protect gay and lesbian people from job discrimination and favor allowing gay and lesbian people to serve openly in the military (75% and 69% respectively). A majority (56%) of Californians favor adoption rights for same-sex couples.

There is a striking Catholic-Protestant divide within the California Latino community on public policy issues related to gay and lesbian rights. A majority of Latino Catholics (57%) say they would vote to allow gay and lesbian couple to marry, compared to just 22% of Latino Protestants. The Catholic-Protestant divide in the Latino community is evident across a wide range of public policy issues related to gay and lesbian rights.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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