The NYTimes and CBS just released the results of their national poll; and while they asked voters about their views on a plethora of issues I want to focus specifically on the portion about marriage equality.
The nationwide telephone poll asked 1,064 registered voters, of whom 226 were Catholic and 238 were white evangelical Christians. What they found is this: 40% of those polled said gay couples should be allowed to legally marry. 23% said they believed gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions but not get legally married; and 31% there should be no legal recognition of gay relationships. But the more interesting part for me comes from this:
Gay marriage is another debate in which the Catholic laity disagrees with church doctrine. More than two-thirds of Catholic voters supported some sort of legal recognition of gay couples’ relationships: 44 percent favored marriage, and 25 percent preferred civil unions. Twenty-four percent said gay couples should receive no legal recognition.
That would put Catholic support ahead of the poll average (and opposition lower than the average as well). Unsurprisingly, a majority of White Evangelical Voters favored no legal recognition of any kind.
This is important for 2 reasons. First off, it shows that the Catholic Church hierarchy is getting more and more out of touch with their congregations. The Pope recently called marriage equality a threat to the future of the human species, and this echoes exactly what most Bishops in this country and abroad have been saying for years. It would seem that these lies and hyperbolic proclamations aren’t having the effect the Church likely hopes they will. Second and perhaps most importantly, it highlights the importance of reaching out to religious and faith based communities when there are opportunities. According to the last Pew Forum Religious Landscape Survey, some 23% of people in this country are self identified Catholics. That’s a very large voting bloc and it is one we would be stupid to ignore or alienate with blatant attacks against their religious beliefs.