You’ve probably seen some coverage by now of how African American views of marriage equality have shifted in its favor in the wake of President Obama’s announcement that he now supports it. But what about Latinos and their views?
The recent news coverage and analysis of this issue has focused almost exclusively on comparing the marriage views of African Americans with whites, with an occasional nod to a broader group of “people of color.” This analysis inadvertently masks the views of Latinos, the nation’s largest and fastest-growing minority group. In fact, among the media’s coverage of new polls conducted and released following President Obama’s support of marriage equality, very few (if any) broke out the results based on Latino or Hispanic ethnicity.
Despite the absence of media coverage on Latinos and marriage equality, numerous surveys tell us that Latinos are by and large supportive of laws that extend the rights and responsibilities of marriage to same-sex couples. A 2011 survey of Latinos found that even then 54 percent supported full marriage equality, compared to about 53 percent of the general public at the time. This same survey found that Latinos who identify as Catholic support marriage equality at a slightly higher rate of 57 percent. Like the rest of the U.S. population, support for marriage equality was higher among Hispanic women than Hispanic men, and was lower for those Latinos who identified as members of the Republican Party.
Further, a 2010 survey by the Associated Press and Univision found stark generational divides among Latinos, just as in the general population. Specifically, younger-generation Latinos voice much higher support for marriage equality than older Latinos do.
But overall Latino support for equality extends far beyond marriage. One case in point: Latinos are very supportive of laws that protect against other forms of antigay* discrimination (note that these surveys didn’t ask questions specific to transgender rights). The aforementioned 2011 survey found that:
- Eighty-six percent of Latinos support workplace discrimination laws that protect gay people
- Eighty-six percent support housing discrimination laws that protect gay people
- Eighty-three percent support hate crimes laws that protect gay people
- Eighty-three percent support equal health care and pension benefits for same-sex couples
- Seventy-eight percent support open military service
Further, the survey found that 67 percent of Latinos believe that gay people face either some or a lot of discrimination in the United States. At the same time, 65 percent of Latinos said that Hispanics themselves face similar rates of discrimination; 55 percent said the same for African Americans; and 47 percent for women. Also, 65 percent of Latinos said that gay people face some or a lot of discrimination from the Hispanic population itself—52 percent said that African Americans face similar levels of discrimination from the Latino population, and 48 percent said women did as well.
In addition to obscuring Latino support for marriage equality, the recent media focus on African Americans and marriage equality also ignores the fact that African Americans believe gay people face high rates of discrimination overall in America. In fact, African Americans largely understand that gay Americans face pervasive discrimination and are strongly supportive of laws and policies to end that discrimination—and they were supportive even when their opposition to marriage equality was significantly high.
A 2009 report and related polling from the Arcus Foundation, for example, found that 67 percent of African Americans opposed marriage equality at that time. But the same survey and polls found that 76 percent of African Americans thought that gay people overall face either a lot or some discrimination in America. Further:
- Eighty-five percent of African Americans polled said that hate crimes are a problem for gay people
- Eighty-three percent said school bullying is a problem for gay youth
- Seventy-four percent said access to health care and pension benefits is a problem for same-sex couples
- Seventy-four percent said job discrimination is a problem for gay employees and job seekers
- Sixty-nine percent said housing discrimination is a problem for the gay population
If that’s not enough for you, the National Council of La Raza has endorsed marriage equality as well.
Eric Rodriguez, vice president of public policy for the National Council of La Raza, confirmed to the Blade that the vote took place on June 9 during a previously scheduled board meeting. NCLR did not provide a copy of the resolution, but Rodriguez stressed that there was little opposition to it.
“There was discussion for that period of time, but everyone really strongly that supporting what we had already put out there in terms of our statement was the right thing to do,” he said.
Former NCLR Board Chair Danny Ortega, a Phoenix lawyer whose term ended after the vote, provided broad details of the conversations that he said took place among the 25 board members before the vote.
“We had a discussion about this and clearly some people had more questions than others, but at the end of the discussion it was unanimous,” he said.
The resolution passed less than a month after the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons’ Board of Directors endorsed marriage rights for same-sex couples.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund President Thomas A. Saenz has backed same-sex marriage. His organization has not only represented people with HIV in discrimination cases, but filed amicus briefs in support of lawsuits that challenge California’s Proposition 8 and other states’ prohibitions on nuptials for gays and lesbians.
The Texas chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens earlier this month also passed a same-sex marriage resolution during their annual convention. LULAC National President Margaret Moran joined Murguía, Saenz and other civil rights leaders who applauded Obama’s public support of nuptials for gays and lesbians.
Remember when marriage equality was going to be the wedge that fractured the Democratic coalition? So much for that. Sure, there is at least one prominent African American who has been unhappy with the President’s announcement, but I rather doubt that the bottom feeders at NOM will be adopting him as a spokesperson. American Progress link via NewsTaco, Blade link via Runnin’ Scared. Freedom to Marry has more.