Barbara Bush’s public support for gay marriage has garnered a lot of press attention over the past week. Reporting on this the Washington Post has drawn my attention to another finding that should have drawn more attention. Alongside the number of Republican politicians and Evangelical Christians who are breaking ranks with their traditional opposition and starting to support equality, the majority of US (and European) Catholics have already parted company with their bishops on the matter. This has been demonstrated in several polls in recent years, at national level, and in state level polls, as in Rhode Island.
When I read and reported on the recent finding of the Quinnipiac poll that a majority of New Yorkers now support full legal recognition of same sex marriages, I neglected to follow through on my usual practice of checking the cross-tabs for a breakdown by religion. This was a mistake. (In mitigation, I plead that I was under intense pressure for time last week). As the Washington Post has now observed, the national pattern is found in New York, too. An absolute majority of New York Catholics support full marriage (not simply civil unions). As the paper’s report notes in its concluding remark, “Republican and Catholic leaders may find themselves increasingly out of touch with the rhythm and blues that are moving their constituents and congregants on these issues”.
For how much longer can bishops, in the US or elsewhere, get away with claiming to speak for “Catholics” on such matters (or, in the Philippines), it is patently obvious that they are not speaking of the real beliefs or real Catholics, but only for Vatican doctrine and the rule book Catholics who would prefer to get their ideas from a moral manual, without personal thought or reflection?
A recent survey of New York registered voters conducted by Quinnipiac University found that a solid majority (56%) now say they would support a law that would allow same-sex couples to marry. Less than 4-in-10 (37%) New York voters say they would oppose the law. Views on same-sex marriage in New York state have shifted significantly since Quinnipiac first gauged voter sentiment on the issue in April 2004, when a solid majority of New Yorkers opposed allowing same-sex couples to marry (55% to 37%).
One other surprise was the poll’s finding that a majority (52%) of New York Catholic voters support allowing same-sex couples to marry. Six-in-ten Jewish voters in New York also support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, while Protestant voters are evenly divided (46% support, 48% oppose).
New York voters overall register significantly higher levels of support for same-sex marriage than registered voters nationally. Among voters nationally, 46% support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, compared to 51% who oppose (PRRI American Values Survey 2010). New York Catholic voters’ views, on the other hand, are consistent with the fellow Catholic voters nationwide, among whom 53% favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, compared to 44% who are opposed.
These surprises suggest that Republican and Catholic leaders may find themselves increasingly out of touch with the rhythm and blues that are moving their constituents and congregants on these issues.
–Washington Post, “On Faith”
- Chart of the Day: Religion and Gay Marriage
- Rhode Island Catholics Support Marriage Equality
- Pope Benedict’s Strong Argument for Gay Marriage, Queer Families
- New Yorkers Want Marriage Equality (Poll Shows Strongest Support Yet)
- Despite Anti-Gay Activism of Catholic Hierarchy, Marriage Equality Seems “Poised to Prevail” (The Wild Reed)
- Most NYers support gay marriage ever (NY Daily News)
- Q-Poll Shows Growing Support For Gay Marriage (Times Union)
- Quinnipiac survey (Full Report)