Report: Majority of Latinos Back LGBT Rights
A new report that the National Council of La Raza and Social Science Research Solutions released on Thursday shows that the majority of Latinos support LGBT rights.
The La Raza and SSRS study that the Arcus Foundation funded shows that 54 percent of Latinos support marriage for same-sex couples. Sixty-four percent of Latinos back civil unions for gays and lesbians, while 83 percent support employment protections for LGBT Americans. Seventy-eight percent of Latinos approve of the repeal of the ban on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers.
"The starting point for the study was [the] concern it was in the opposite direction-that this was a community rife with intolerance," said SSRS Vice President David Dutwin, who wrote the study. "The study shows that that’s really not the case."
Only 55 percent of Latinos who responded to the poll said they support adoption rights for gays and lesbians.
Dutwin conceded there is a lack of data that can help researchers answer why this statistic is lower than other groups. Anecdotal research suggests that the number of people who are specifically impacted by a potential law or regulation could play a role.
"You can roughly maybe conceive of as laws that support the individual versus laws that support people around them and other people," said Dutwin, specifically referring to hate crimes and non-discrimination laws. "These are measures that really protect the individual and solely the individual. Whereas when you get to military service and certainly adoption, now other people are potentially impacted."
Report: Religion and Acculturation Influence LGBT Attitudes
The report found that only 43 percent of Latinos who are Protestant support marriage for gays and lesbians, compared to 79 percent who said they are either agnostic or atheist. Only 31 percent of born-again Latinos said they believe homosexuality is biological, compared to 57 percent of those who are not born-again who said a person’s sexual orientation is not a choice.
"Frankly the less religious you are typically the more you’re in support of pro-gay policies," said Dutwin.
Another factor to which Dutwin pointed as a unique influence on Latinos’ attitudes towards LGBT people is their level of acculturation.
The report notes that rates of acceptance of LGBT people are higher among Latinos and others who know someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Anecdotal research further suggests that Latinos who are less accepting of LGBT people come from less tolerant countries where religious institutions remain strong.
"The data here does show there is a lot of linkage between foreign-born Hispanics and Hispanics who are on the acculturation scale are more religious, are more likely to be literalists," he said.
La Raza and SSRS unveiled their report less than three weeks after Maine court officials released previously confidential memoranda that documented the National Organization for Marriage’s strategy of using marriage for same-sex couples to drive a wedge between Latinos, blacks and gays. Its release also coincides with the upcoming vote on North Carolina’s proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman.
New York State Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr., and other prominent Latinos oppose marriage for same-sex couples. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is among those who have publicly endorsed nuptials for gays and lesbians.
"Latinos, like other Americans, have come a long way in acceptance of the LGBT community," said La Raza’s Eric Rodriguez. "Without a doubt there is work to be done within our own community to promote acceptance and tolerance, but this report is a strong indication that we are moving in the right direction."
Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson agreed.
"It is time for us to really engage in conversations-family member to family member, group to group, neighbor to neighbor about how the denial of marriage harms Latinos and other members of their families and how every family ought to be treated with respect under the law," he told EDGE.
Dutwin said he does not expect NOM and other anti-LGBT organizations to change their strategies towards Latinos as a result of his report. He stressed, however, that their argument that Diaz and others who oppose marriage for gays and lesbians represent all Latinos on the issue has become harder to make.
"The data here shows that they’re not representative of all Hispanics," said Dutwin. "They only represent a minority of Hispanics."
He also noted the parallels between the sponsors of Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070 and Alabama’s tough immigration law that passed last year and less LGBT-tolerant attitudes. "They’re trying to make it much harder for people to come into this country that are on average going to be more against pro-LGBT policies," said Dutwin. "The same people who are against pro-LGBT policies are also the same people trying to limit the number of Hispanics coming into this country that might share their opinion on the subject."
Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.