Polls say one thing, but religious leaders say another on the question of whether Hispanic-Americans in Maryland will support same-sex marriage in next month's landmark referendum.
National and statewide polling of Latinos has shown a steady turn in favor of same-sex marriage. The Pew Research Center published a poll last week that shows “rapidly growing support” for gay marriage among Hispanics nationwide, with 52 percent for and 34 percent against. It is the first time that a Pew poll showed a majority of Latinos in favor of same-sex marriage.
That support divides along religious lines. An April poll commissioned by the National Council of La Raza found that 79 percent of atheist or agnostic Latinos support same-sex marriage, 67 percent of Latino Catholics support it and 43 percent of Latino Protestants are in support. (Nearly 60 percent of Latinos are Catholic and about 16 percent are evangelical, according to Pew.)
Advocates of same-sex marriage in Maryland have tried to tap into that growing support, launching a campaign this summer that has framed the Civil Marriage Protection Act—Question 6 on next month’s ballot—as a civil rights issue that will resonate with Hispanics' family values.
CASA de Maryland, the state’s largest immigrant advocacy group, joined forces with Equality Maryland in the hopes of encouraging Latino support for the gay marriage referendum and currying LGBT support for the Dream Act referendum.
“We are very confident that Latinos understand the value of families,” CASA executive director Gustavo Torres told Patch when the alliance was formed. “If we communicate very clearly that someone wants to be married to someone that he or she loves, that’s the most important thing.”
But since then, CASA has faced a backlash from the faith community, reported The Washington Post.
“I think it’s really a big mistake on [CASA’s] part to join the two issues, which are quite distinct,” Monsignor Mark Brennan of St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Gaithersburg told The Post.
The divided allegiances among Latinos, combined with their traditionally low turnout of Latino voters, muddles the extent of their impact on Election Day, reported The Gazette. The Maryland Catholic Conference was part of the alliance that put the state’s same-sex marriage law on next month’s ballot, and evangelical Protestants are aligned in large numbers against Question 6.
“The great majority of our [Latino] community will vote against it,” Bishop Angel Nunez, senior pastor of Bilingual Christian Church in Baltimore and president of the Baltimore Hispanic Pastors Association, told The Gazette.