LGBT Acceptance and Support: The Hispanic Perspective
By Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS), West Baltimore, PA and National Council of La Raza, Washington, D.C., April 2012. http://www.nclr.org/images/uploads/publications/LGBTAS_HispanicPerspective.pdf
After the demoralizing passage of Proposition 8 overturned same sex marriage in California in 2008 , those with a national platform laid this defeat for LGBTQ rights at the feet of racial minority communities. Much of this chatter went uncontested, as major news outlets asked mainstream LGBTQ groups (typically featuring White male spokespersons) as well as right-wing voices(often conservative religious voices of color) to analyze African-American and Latino communities’ perspectives on LGBTQ rights, cementing ideas of intolerance. Rarely were queer people of color or progressive clergy of color given opportunities to complicate stereotypical notions or beliefs supposedly held by these communities.
Today, mainstream commentary is finally catching up to public opinion. This is, in part, due to comprehensive polling research proving what many in marginalized communities already know–Latinos and African Americans are more supportive of a wide range of LGBTQ rights than what has been assumed and often carelessly discussed. More evidence comes from SSRS’s telephone poll of Latinos, done in conjunction with La Raza, which found that “Hispanics are as open and tolerant, if not more tolerant, than the general population.”
Interviewers asked people a range of demographic questions including their country of origin, religious affiliation, experience with discrimination, and frequency of internet and social media usage. A majority identified as being of Mexican heritage; and most respondents identified as Roman Catholic. Questions on issues specific to the LGBTQ community included whether respondents favored giving gays and lesbians legal protection against job discrimination; allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military; and allowing gay and lesbian couples to gain access to healthcare and pension benefits for their partners. The responses overwhelmingly showed strong support for LGBTQ people to have access to a full range of legal and economic rights and social services.
Marriage equality polling results were more complex, and respondents’ religion played a larger factor in shaping attitudes. The results were telling when people were asked whether they favored allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into legal agreements with each other that would afford them similar rights as married couples; allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry in your church or religious institution; and allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally: Slightly more respondents supported LGBTQ rights than the national average, including those religiously identified. Roman Catholics showed more support for LGBTQ equality than Protestants.
While the report found that the large concern over Latino homophobia was greatly exaggerated, there is cause for concern within several sectors of the Latino community, specifically at the cross section of religion and sexuality. Intolerance increased among respondents who expressed greater religiosity, and those who considered themselves “born again” or biblical literalists were among those more intolerant of the queer community. One of SSRS’s most interesting discoveries was the link between participants who oppose marriage equality and those who frequented churches or religious institutions in which clergy shared anti-gay messages or touted the “traditional” family model as moral.
Although the study does not directly consider the impact of queer Latino social justice activists, their voices have created important bridges within their communities and challenge the mainstream LGBTQ movement’s analysis of and subsequent work in their communities. A key takeaway from this study is the need for LGBTQ and heterosexual faith leaders to ally and work with one another, making the moral case for marriage equality in harmony with the larger queer movement.