This past March, a secret memo from the anti-gay marriage group the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) leaked. It underlined plans to make "support for [traditional] marriage [editor: in their language, that means opposition to gay marriage] a key badge of Latino identity." Of course, it's odd that a group whose leadership, as listed on its website, is entirely non-Hispanic white would decide what constitutes Latino identity. As it turns out, a new study has shown that Latinos support gay marriage at a slightly higher level than the rest of the nation.
Most interesting, Hispanic Republicans are more likely to support gay marriage than the general Republican population by a significant 14 percentage points.
According to a new study published by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) [PDF], 54 percent of Latinos say they support gay marriage. According to a Gallup Poll taken in May, 53 percent of the general American population now supports gay marriage.
The wide-ranging study illuminates many facets of Hispanic Americans' views of the LFBT community and gay rights, but perhaps what is most interesting is that Latino Republicans are much more likely to support gay marriage than the rest of the GOP.
Forty-two percent of Latino Republicans favor gay marriage. Only 28 percent of the general GOP supports gay marriage.
Interestingly, Latino Democrats are less likely than the general Democratic population to support gay marriage, though the gap is slightly smaller; 58 percent of Latino Dems support gay marriage compared to 69 percent of all Democrats.
Cuban-Americans make up only a small portion of NCLR's poll, but the results echo a poll of Miami-Dade Cubans in 2008. Back then, 68.5 percent of Cuban-Americans in the county identified as Republican. However, 70 percent of all Cuban-Americans in the county said they either opposed or had no opinion on a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage. Only 30 percent supported such an amendment.
This is perhaps why Cuban-American Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is now the only Republican in the U.S. House who is a champion of gay rights and has faced little to no local backlash because of it. Perhaps that's why Republican former Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart broke with his party in one of the final major votes of his career to help repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." And perhaps that's why when two registered Republicans with few substantial political position differences faced off in the nonpartisan county mayoral race, the one who had the endorsement from gay rights groups emerged victorious.
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So word to NOM and the locally based anti-gay group the Christian Family Coalition: You have a lot of work to do to make opposition to gay marriage "a key badge of Latino identity."