The Republicans' uphill climb for the Latino vote may be steeper than they thought.
More evidence came just this weekend. The National Council of La Raza joined together with 20 other groups to promote gay rights awareness.
Republicans, on the other hand, stand for the Defense of Marriage Act -- barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage. When President Obama in May came out in support of same-sex marriage, Mitt Romney quickly jumped in to clarify that he didn't, and won't. No way. No how.
"I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender and I don't favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name," he said.
In case that wasn't clear enough, his campaign website goes into even more detail on his opposition to same-sex marriage and his support for a "constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman."
It also, somewhat cryptically, announces his opposition to gay adoption. "Every child deserves a father and a mother."
Rick Santorum made a big deal out of the issue even before the president's announcement. The Los Angeles Times reported how he got emotional in front of an audience of boarding school students (including three with gay parents) during the primary as he told them, marriage was meant to be between a man and a woman.
"Marriage is not a right," he said. "It's a privilege that is given to society by society for a reason. ... We want to encourage what is the best for children."
Letting gay couples raise children, he said, is "robbing children of something they need, they deserve, they have a right to. You may rationalize that that isn't true, but in your own life and in your own heart, you know it's true."
More and more prominent Hispanics and Latino groups, however, are standing up in favor of homosexual rights.
Ricky Martin, one of the most recognizable Hispanic celebrities for both English- and Spanish-speakers, publically outed himself a couple of years ago. He threw a major fundraiser for Obama at an LGBT event in New York just days after the president made his announcement.
News broke Monday that Jennifer Lopez is working on a new television show for ABC in which a lesbian couple with several children of their own, bring another teenager in to live with their family.
Now comes the group effort announced at the NCLR convention in Las Vegas, just weeks after NCLR's board followed LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and adopted a resolution supporting same-sex marriage. As they launched the "Famila es Familia" campaign this weekend, the two largest and most recognized Hispanic advocacy organizations in the country issued a joint statement.
"Since its inception, LULAC has fought for the equality of minorities," said LULAC Executive Director, Brent Wilkes. "All individuals, regardless of their race, ethnicity, country of origin or sexual orientation, deserve equal rights. Everyone should be granted the freedom to marry their partner be protected under the same laws that are established for heterosexual couples."
That's bad news for the Republicans, not just in November, but even more importantly for the long- term. The nation is rapidly becoming a majority- minority country, meaning that minorities, added together, will soon outnumber non-Hispanic whites. If those minorities stand together on issues that are exactly opposite of what Republican stand for, the GOP faces a real problem about remaining a viable party.
The Democrats have always held an advantage with Hispanics. Buy Ronald Reagan whittled away at it by focusing on family values. Hispanics, he said, "are Republicans, they just don't know it."
It worked. And his success promoted the idea that Latinos, by and large, are socially conservative and that that might allow the Republicans to attract more Hispanics to their ranks.
But a series of recent polls show that it's not as clear cut as that.
Recent surveys by the Pew Research Center offered comprehensive looks at Hispanic attitudes about religion, abortion, homosexuality, gun control and big government vs. small.
Latinos sided with conservatives on abortion (They're against it, more than the general public, in fact -- 51 percent said it should be illegal in all cases.) and religion (For it. Hispanics say religion is important in their lives and they go to services regularly -- again, even more than the general public.)
But Hispanics are decidedly liberal on other issues. They even say they're liberal by a bigger margin (30 percent compared to 21 percent) than the general public.
And, on a couple of issues that are sure to send the ultra-conservative tea partiers in the GOP screaming through the streets, Latinos favor big government and gun control by whopping margins.
A full 75 percent say they "favor a bigger government providing more services." Only 19 percent liked the idea of a "smaller government providing fewer services."
The gun control vs. gun rights responses were similarly skewed. Only 29 percent of Hispanics support the rights of gun owners over stricter controls, compared to 57 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 35 percent of blacks.
On the question of whether homosexuality should be accepted or discouraged, the Republicans may be the most out of step. Latinos and the general public said it should be accepted (59 and 58 percent, respectively). Only 30 percent of Hispanics said it should be discouraged, compared to 33 percent of the general public.
As for marriage: again, nearly tied -- 54 percent of Latinos favor same-sex marriage, compared to 53 percent of the general public.
Same-sex marriage may not rank high up on the list of issues for Hispanics, but it's clear some major players within the demographic want to make it one. And if Republicans stick with their opposition to it, that's clearly going to drive yet another wedge between them and a majority of Latinos, if not the nation.
Source: Terra/Carlos Harrison