QUOTE TO NOTE: Proud Latino and Catholic for Marriage Equality

Representative Xavier Becerra
Representative Xavier Becerra

computer_key_Quotation_MarksU.S. Representative Xavier Becerra (D-California) was one of 67 congresspeople who in 1996 voted against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which is now being challenged in the Supreme Court.  He, along with 212 other lawmakers, signed an amicus brief asking the Court to overturn DOMA, according to Politic365.com.

At a rally at the Supreme Court on the day oral arguments were heard in the case, Becerra told the amassed demonstrators:

“It is time for us to have equality. I say this as a proud Latino and Catholic. It is proud to have equality for all and we will have it because time marches forward and so does justice.”

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry



Catholic Latino Voters Support Marriage Equality

The Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life have released data from a new survey which shows for the first time in their polling that more Latinos are in favor of marriage equality than are opposed to it, with 52% in favor and 34% opposed.

Those numbers get better when looking at Latino Catholics vs. Latino Evangelicals.  According to a Reuters news report:

“Despite increased activism against same-sex marriage by some U.S. Roman Catholic bishops this election season, Latino Catholics are more supportive of same-sex marriage than Latino evangelical Protestants, the Pew survey found, by 54 percent compared with 25 percent.”

Lourdes Rodriguez-Nogues

Lourdes Rodriguez-Nogues, President of DignityUSA, offered an explanation of the favorable statistics:

“Growing support among Latinos for civil marriage equality is not at all surprising. The importance of family across Latino cultures means that they want the best for all of their members, including those who are gay and lesbian.”

The Reuters story also cited another influence:

“Obama’s declaration of support for gay marriage May 9 may have prompted some Americans, especially blacks and Hispanics, to reconsider their opposition, an analysis of Reuters/Ipsos poll data showed in May. The data found that fewer blacks and Hispanics opposed gay marriage after Obama’s remarks than before.”

A poll earlier this year conducted by the Social Science Research Solutions group found that 54% of Latinos support marriage equality, as opposed to 53% of the general population.

Meanwhile a group of Catholic and Evangelical Latino leaders are holding a press conference today to urge Hispanic voters to support Mitt Romney, according a  Fox News Latino report.   These religious leaders opposed Barack Obama in part because of his support for marriage equality.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry




DignityUSA President Offers Latino/a Culture Insights at Congressional Briefing

Lourdes Rodriguez-Nogues

Lourdes Rodriguez-Nogues, president of DignityUSA, a national organization of LGBT Catholic and supporters, recently was a panelist at a U.S. Congressional briefing on Latino/a support of LGBT issues.  The panel, organized by La Raza, a national Latino/a advocacy organization, and sponsored by U.S. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, focused on a newly released research study, LGBT Acceptance and Support: The Hispanic Perspective. (Bondings 2.0 reported on this study when it was released in April 2012.)

DignityUSA’s newsletter, Dateline, reports that  David Dutwin, PhD, of Social Science Research Solutions, which published the report

“explained the national study demonstrated that, contrary to public belief, people of Hispanic background are as likely to supportLGBT civil rights, including marriage, as the rest of the population. In fact, 54% of Hispanics currently affirm the right of same-sex couples to marry,very similar to the 53% of the general population who express support. The trend was similar among Hispanic Catholics in the U.S., with 57% supporting same-sex marriage, compared with 56% of all Catholics in the U.S.

The survey was underwritten by the Arcus Foundation. Speaking about why the Foundation felt this research was important, Vice President of Social Justice Programming Tom Kam said it is crucial to understand the complexity of opinions among ethnic populations. He felt it was ‘a unique opportunity to hear the voices of Latino people of faith, voices often overshadowed by the leadership of religious institutions, and voices that may be unheard or misrepresented in the public debate.’ ”

Rodriguez-Nogues provided some cultural context for understanding the report:

“Discussing the implications of the survey data, Lourdes went on to explain that in Hispanic culture, the family and the group, rather than the individual, are the center of society. Therefore, efforts to create division in families, such as has been recently documented to be a tactic of the National Organization for Marriage, could be particularly damaging among Hispanics. She noted that the strength of families, and the breadth of extended family, are reasons to keep creating opportunities and models for LGBT people to come out and make civil rights issues personal.”

She also offered some personal background and insight:

“She reflected on her many years of being ‘out in English, but not in Spanish,’ and on the desire not to introduce a topic of prospective discord into her family as the reason for this. Lourdes said that when she ultimately did decide to come out to her mother, who like in most Hispanic families is both the head and the heart of the family, her mother responded with two questions. ‘She asked me if I was happy, and if I had a relationship with God,’ said Lourdes. ‘Those were the things that mattered to her.’ ”

¡Felicidades y muchas gracias, Lourdes!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Strong Support for LGBT Issues Among Hispanics–Especially Catholics

Catholics who support LGBT equality know only too well that the long-standing media image of Catholics as hostile to accepting LGBT people is blatantly false.   So, it may come as no surprise to them that a new survey shows that Hispanics, another population often whose LGBT attitudes are often depicted in similarly negative fashion, are actually very supportive of equality and justice.

According to a Seattle Times article, the report conducted by Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS) research group and  the National Council of La Raza, a major Hispanic advocacy organization

“found Latino support for many pro-gay policies at least on par with that of the population as a whole.

“Latinos in the SSRS study, for example, support same-sex marriage at a rate of 54 percent, compared with 53 percent of those in the general population who indicated such support in a Gallup poll last year. [Note: in most polls on marriage equality that track religious affiliation, about 50-55% of Catholics usually indicate support.]

“And by even wider margins, respondents in the SSRS study favor policies aimed at protecting gays against hate crimes and discrimination related to jobs, housing and military service.”

The Times article highlights the fact that this new information dispels old myths about Hispanic people:

” ‘There is a clear misperception among the general population about where Latinos stand’ on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, said David Dutwin, vice president of SSRS and author of the report.

” ‘In reality, as society is evolving on LGBT issues and becoming more accepting of this community, so too are Hispanics.’ “

When Catholic Hispanics are looked at separately in the report, support for LGBT issues is even stronger:

“Three out of five Hispanics in the U.S. identify as Catholic. And while polls put support for same-sex marriage among lay Catholics at around 56 percent, church teachings and most church leaders oppose same-sex marriage.

“Among Catholic Latinos in the SSRS survey, 57 percent said they support same-sex marriage, while support among other Christians was around 43 percent.”

Interestingly, the researchers themselves admit that they expected to find Catholicism fueling anti-LGBT sentiment among Hispanics, but in fact, that hypothesis did not prove true.   In an interview with Candace Chellew-Hodge for an article on ReligionDispatches.org, Dutwin, the lead researcher confessed:

“With somewhere between three out of five Hispanics identifying as Catholic there was a thought walking into the survey that if there is a lack of support and acceptance in the Hispanic community, then it’s the Catholic nature of the community that’s driving it. Turns out that’s not the case at all. A majority Catholic Hispanics support legal gay marriage. It’s actually Protestant Hispanics that are under 50% support of gay marriage.

My own belief about strong Catholic support for marriage equality is that one reason it is so strong is because Catholics maintain strong family ties.   Since Hispanic culture is also very centered on the family unit, I speculate that this reason may be one of the motivators for such strong support among this group, too.

You can read the full text of the SSRS report and data by clicking here.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Just Say “No” to NOM

Equally Blessed, a coalition of four Catholic justice organizations, has called on the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, to publicly disassociate themselves and their organizations from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

The group wrote to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, and Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson after documents unsealed in a court case in Maine revealed that in opposing marriage equality NOM sought to “drive a wedge” between the black and LGBT communities and the Latino and LGBT communities.

“Fostering hostility and hatred is something that violates the very fundamentals of our faith,” the group wrote to Dolan. “Our Church stands for unity among all, regardless of race or ethnicity. We should be promoting understanding, love and the inherent dignity of all people.”

The U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has worked closely with NOM in opposing marriage equality in a number of states, including the current campaign to reverse same-gender marriage legislation in the state of Washington. The Knights of Columbus donated more than $1.9 million to NOM between 2008 and 2009 alone, according to the group’s annual reports. You can read the entire text of the letter to Dolan here.

In their letter to Anderson, the group said: “We believe that if all of the faithful Knights around the country knew that their leaders have spent millions of dollars fighting marriage equality, rather than spending it on the social programs that the faithful Knights expect, they would be outraged.”  You can read the entire text of the letter to Anderson here.

The strategy memo was among a number of documents unsealed last week by a federal judge. It revealed that in addition to turning ethnic communities against he LGBT community, NOM also sought to find children willing to speak out against their LGBT parents.

Equally Blessed is also asking supporters to use the “CatholicNoToNOM” graphic (above) as their profile picture on Facebook pages and to use the “#CatholicNoToNOM” hashtag on Twitter.

“A strategy that deliberately tries to divide families is shameful,” said Lourdes Rodriguez-Nogués, president of Dignity USA. “Being a lesbian makes me no less Cuban that I was before I came out, no less Catholic, no less a part of my family. Latino families want what is best for each of their members and know that anything that oppresses one of us oppresses all of us.”

In addition to calling upon Dolan and Anderson to publicly disassociate themselves and their organizations from NOM, Equally Blessed is also launching a social media campaign: #CatholicNoToNOM to raise awareness of the NOM’s tactics.

“We hear frequently that marriage equality would be detrimental to the family,” said Casey Lopata, co-founder of Fortunate Families. “But it is the National Organization for Marriage that is seeking to tear families apart.”

Equally Blessed includes four organizations that have spent a combined 115 years working on behalf of LGBT people and their families: Call To Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, and New Ways Ministry.