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Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for October, 2012

An interesting and encouraging poll of Latinos

Timothy Kincaid

October 3rd, 2012

I get truly irritated by “polls” that refuse to provide the original questions, the selection methodology, the margin of error, or anything else from which to judge if they have meaning. So a new “survey for NBC Latino” of 400 Hispanic Americans by Zogby is driving me nuts. They tell us nothing about the methodology or how those “surveyed” were selected, but they do provide that “Participants were surveyed between August 31 and September 4 and the results have a -/+4.8 percentage point of error.”

I say all that so as to preface that I place no reliance on this report. However, it is good news and probably not altogether surprising news to those who live in a high-Latino density location.

In 2008, Hispanic voters supported Proposition 8 with numbers (53%) that very nearly mirrored the public vote as a whole (52%). And as polls show us that the public position on marriage equality has significantly changed since 2008, it would seem reasonable that the shift in Hispanic Americans has followed the national trend.

Another finding that is interesting is that 74% of American Latinos identify as being “American” while another 19% identify as being both American and as “Being from my home country” (only 4% chose “home country” alone). While these numbers were a little bit higher than I expected, they don’t come as much of a surprise. Being Mexican-American or Salvadoran-American appears to me to be rapidly taking on the cultural relevance of being Italian-American or Irish-American (or may have already to a large degree done so), culturally interesting but not exactly the most defining characteristic.

But I simply refuse to believe one of their reported findings: by 56% to 28%, Latinos prefer burgers over tacos. Burger over tacos? No way!

I did a quick informal survey of my office co-workers. Oddly enough, my very multi-cultural office doesn’t have any Latinos currently working here but the results came out this way:

Burgers: the American born Japanese lady and Vietnamese guy.
Tacos: the coworkers born in Israel, Norway, England, and the Philippines. And me.

Yet Another Poll Shows Young Evangelicals’ Increased Support for Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

September 9th, 2011

The Washington Post points to a poll from the Public Religion Research Institute released in late August that found a huge generation gap between young Evangelical Christians and seniors in support for same-sex marriage. PPRI found that there is at least a 20-point gap between Millennials (age 18 to 29) overall regardless of religious affiliation and seniors (age 65 and older) on every public policy position concerning LGBT people. The survey found that 62% of Millennials favor allowing same-sex marriage, 69% are okay with gay couples adopting children, 71% favor civil unions and 79% favor employment anti-discrimination measures. Sixty-nine percent of Millennials overall believe that religious groups are alienating young people by being anti-gay.

The gap persists among Evangelicals as well. Forty-four percent of white Evangelical Millennials favor marriage equality, as opposed to 12% of Evangelical seniors.

Taking religion out of the equation, the same poll also found that 49% of Republican Millennials also favor marriage equality, in contrast to 19% of Republican seniors and 31% of Republicans overall.

The same poll also found that 52% of self-identified Catholics favor allowing gay people to marry, and an identical proportion believe that gay relationships are not a sin. What’s more, 46% of Catholics think the Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality is too conservative, 43% think it’s about right, and only 6% think it is too liberal. Among Catholics who attend Mass weekly, 37% overall think the church is too conservative on gay issues while 54% say it is about right. This poll also confirms earlier findings that there is a significant ethnic division among Catholics on this issue, with 55% of Hispanic Catholics believing the church is too conservative on homosexuality, compared to 43% of white non-Hispanic Catholics holding the same view.

The poll’s margins of error: ±2% for the general sample, 3.7% for white Evangelicals, 3.9% for Catholics, 8.3% for Latino Catholics, 4.5% for Millennials, 3.8% for seniors, and 3.5% for Republicans. No margin of error was given for white Evangelicals Millennials or for white Evangelical seniors.

The Latino Catholic-Protestant Divide on Same-Sex Marriage

Jim Burroway

July 23rd, 2010

Why is the AFA’s Bryan Fischer so animated against Catholic Latino immigration? Well it turns out a new poll by Public Religion Research Institute was released today on “Religion, Proposition 8, and Same-Sex Marriage in California.” The poll examines the attitudes of various religious communities in California toward same-sex marriage. The must surprising finding was that Latinos overall were supportive of marriage equality (PDF: 397KB/26 pages):

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 make same-sex marriage legal, compared to just 22% of Latino Protestants.
  • The Catholic-Protestant gap within the Latino community is evident across a range of gay and lesbian public policy issues.

This leaves the Latino community almost evenly divided on the issue, with 49% of Latinos regardless of religious affiliation supporting same-sex marriage, and 46% opposed. (Note: I have not been able to determine the margins of error for these smaller subsamples.) But Latinos overall appear more likely to shift toward a more pro-gay position, with 31% of Catholic Latinos and 25% of Protestant Latinos saying they have become more supportive, vs. 22% of White Californians saying the same thing. Only 9% of Catholic Latinos and 15% of Protestant Latinos report having become less supportive.

One interesting finding is in who Californians trust as sources of information about homosexuality:

  • White evangelical Protestants, Latino Protestants, and black Protestants all ranked their own clergy leaders as the most trusted source of information about homosexuality.
  • Both white and Latino Catholics say they trust the parents of gay or lesbian children more than their own clergy as a source of information about homosexuality.

Joseph M. Palacios, Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University, cites three likely reasons for these findings:

Family First: Latino Catholics orient their social lives around the family and extended family even in the context of high Latino single-parent households (estimated 33% of all U.S. Latino households; 36% of all Latino Children in California live in single-parent households). Family solidarity is strong and even though children may not follow “traditional family values” as projected by the church and the U.S. society, parents want to keep their children within the family. It is not surprising that Catholics in general and Latino Catholics in particular, as the Public Religion Research study shows, see that parents learn about gay issues from their children. Their moral and ethical judgments are primarily made through this social reality rather than abstract pronouncements from their church leaders.

Catholic Communal versus Protestant Individual Faith: Catholicism is a communal faith that highlights the life cycle process through the sacraments of baptism, Eucharist, confirmation, and marriage. Families experience their moral lives through communal participation in the sacraments, as well as the Latino community’s cultural observances of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Posadas, Dia de los Muertos, etc. Protestant Latinos, on the other hand, have a faith that is individually driven through faith conversion (“accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior”) that often separates a person from the Catholic sacramental life cycle process and the social fabric of the Catholic-based cultural celebrations. …

Latino Catholic Tolerance versus Protestant Fundamentalist Judgment:Catholics allow complexity and ambiguity in moral decision-making since Catholicism is neither fundamentalist nor literalist regarding the Bible. Rather, Catholics can weigh factors such as the Bible, church teaching, and social reality affecting decision-making. Latino Catholics in the United States live in this social context that allows the free exercise of conscience rather than enforced scriptural fundamentalism or bishops’ and pastors’ exhortations in making decisions regarding homosexuality and gay rights– as is often exercised in Protestant fundamentalist and evangelical denominations and now by increasingly doctrinaire Catholic bishops. Further, as noted in the study, Catholic priests rarely mention homosexuality or gay issues in sermons except when forced to by the bishops as happened during the Prop 8 campaign.

Palacios cites another possible factor: Latino Catholics’ centuries of historical experience with the Church dictating political policy. Many Latin-American revolutions were as much rebelions against heavy church influence as they were rebellions against Spanish rule. (And Spain, too, has finally shaken off the Franco-era’s close political collusion with the Church in state affairs.) Latino Catholics know, perhaps far better than others, the benefits of a strong church-state separation.