New research could debunk media portrayals of Latinos as homophobic.
According to a new study released by the National Council of La Raza and Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS), Latinos are as or more likely to support LGBT people and causes than the general population.
The study, which surveyed 1,001 Latinos throughout the United States, found that 54 percent of Latinos support same-sex marriage, compared with 53 percent in the general population.
Dr. David Dutwin, the vice president of SSRS who authored the study, noted that media reports have suggested that Latinos are less likely to back LGBT causes.
"The anecdotal evidence out there was that Hispanics were less accepting of LGBT than the general population," he said.
Not so, the study found.
The study discovered "widespread support" for pro-LGBT policies among Latinos, said Dutwin, at rates comparable to or slightly better than findings in the general population.
Three out of four Latinos surveyed supported open military service, while 83 percent supported legal protections and benefits for LGBT people. Sixty-four percent said they supported civil unions.
Adoption was the exception in the study, said Dutwin. Just 32 percent of respondents favored policies for allowing LGBT adoption.
Like the general population, Latinos were far more likely to support LGBT people and causes if they personally knew LGBT people. Eighty-one percent of Latinos who knew many LGBT people supported legal adoption, compared with 43 percent who knew no LGBT people.
Those numbers also had strong correlation with religious backgrounds, the study found. Fifty-five percent of non-religious respondents supported same-sex marriage. Just 20 percent of Protestants supported marriage equality, and 28 percent of Catholics said they were supportive.
The study also found that clergy views had a deep impact on views, with respondents noting similar sentiments toward LGBT issues as their church leaders.
Latinos who voted in elections also tended to favor LGBT rights at higher rates, the study found. Seventy-six percent of Latinos who voted in 2008 and 2010 reporting feeling comfortable with LGBT people in their lives, compared with 47 percent of non-voting citizens. Non-citizens reported comfort with LGBT peers at 61 percent.
Acculturation into U.S. society also impacted views. The concept of "acculturated" Latinos vs. "traditional" Latinos is often debated and problematic, said Dutwin, but he said that various factors suggest that more acculturated Latinos tended towards more pro-LGBT responses. Just 28 percent of "acculturated" viewed sexual orientation as changeable compared with 64 percent of "traditional" Latinos.
Overall, said Dutwin, the numbers suggest that Latinos are on par with the general population, if not slightly more accepting in some areas.
Dutwin said the study was created with consultation from Latino organizations, some who worried the findings would show higher rates of homophobia among Latinos.
"Whatever the truth was going to be, it was going to be," Dutwin said, who added that the survey was intentionally unbiased.
The report comes shortly after court documents revealed that the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage sought Latino support by presenting marriage equality as antithetical to traditional Latino values.
A copy of the report is at www.nclr.org/images/uploads/publications/LGBTAS_HispanicPerspective.pdf.