According to a report, American Latinos are more tolerant to gays and lesbians than is usually represented in the media.
This week the National Council of La Raza and Social Science Research Solutions released 'LGBT Acceptance and Support: The Hispanic Perspective.' The study, written by SSRS vice-president David Dutwin, counters the idea the Latino community is less tolerant of the LGBT community when compared to other groups.
'There is a clear misperception among the general population about where Latinos stand on LGBT issues, partly because the media pushes this narrative that the culture and values of Latinos and LGBT progress are simply incompatible,' Dutwin said. 'Such misperceptions manifest in story after story about a particular Hispanic group opposing a gay rights bill, even though this anti-gay sentiment is not reflective of all Latinos. In reality, as society is evolving on LGBT issues and becoming more accepting of this community, so too are Hispanics.'
According to Dutwin's work, 54 percent of Hispanics support gay marriage; a recent Gallup poll showed that 53 percent of the total American population was for marriage equality.
There were high approval numbers for other LGBT issues.
'Sixty-four percent of Latinos support civil unions,' the report said. 'No less than 83 percent of Latinos support legal protections for hate crimes, job discrimination, housing discrimination, as well as support for healthcare and pension benefits for gay and lesbian couples. Over three out of four (78 percent) support open military service.'
The parts of the Latino community that were suspect to LGBT acceptance are what the report termed 'the usual suspects.' Men are as 'half supportive' as women. This rate is repeated with Republicans.
As expected, religion's role was important. Yet even the religious population showed critical distinctions.
'The most substantial difference is between Hispanics who go to church and whose clergy are reported to be "anti-gay" in their sermons, and other church-going Hispanics. Those with anti-gay clergy are four times less supportive of gay marriage. As well, Protestants, weekly churchgoers, and literalists are all significantly less likely to support legal gay marriage.'
Dutwin's study emphasizes that, like other communities, Latinos' attitudes toward gays and lesbians change when there is significant personal interaction.
'Many Hispanics come from countries where gays and lesbians are less upfront about their sexuality, so that enables this discomfort toward LGBTs to persist. But the longer these Hispanics live in the U.S. and the more they come into contact with gays and lesbians, the more likely they are to accept them and support pro-LGBT policies such as same-sex marriage.'