Latino Christians in the U.S. Hold Stronger Voice Against Same-sex Marriage

( [email protected] ) Mar 26, 2004 03:25 PM EST

WASHINGTON – According to a Latino pastor of the largest Hispanic Evangelical church in the United States, most Latino Christians are against homosexual marriage. Daniel de Leon, pastor of Templo Calvario in Santa Ana, Calif., expressed his concern of the possible family problems being heightened because of the nation’s movement toward gay marriage.

"Those kids are going to suffer," said de Leon, "It's not just a matter of sex, or a matter of two adults being together and having their way. . . . To us, a man and a woman are here to create a family, and the family needs that support of daddy and mama."

De Leon's added that gay marriage threatens the concept of the family, sacred in Latino culture.

In several communities, black and Hispanic priests and pastors are speaking out in favor of a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Several states with large Hispanic populations — including Texas, Florida, California, Illinois and Arizona — already have laws prohibiting or not recognizing same-sex marriages. In Maryland, the only Hispanic in the state Senate is leading the charge against gay marriage.

According to a national survey conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Kaiser Family Foundation, 72 percent of Latinos believe that homosexual sex between adults is "unacceptable.”

In New York state, a recent poll taken last month among Democratic voters, it showed that 27 percent of Hispanics thought gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry legally, compared with 47 percent for whites. Similar percentage came out in Florida. 80 percent of Hispanics opposed same-sex marriage.

It is shown that because of their conservative Catholic Latin-American religious background where they are brought up from, most Latinos tend to be more conservative on the social issues such as abortion and divorce, including homosexuality. Seventy percent of Hispanics surveyed in the Pew Hispanic Center study identified themselves as Catholic, and 14 percent as evangelical or born-again Christians.

Steffen Schmidt, a political science professor at Iowa State University who studies Latino voting patterns, said some Hispanics vote with the church on certain things such as abortion and gay marriage.

"Latinos on some issues are somewhat like Southerners," he said. "A lot of them are practicing Catholics and simply believe that homosexuality is a sin."