Pew Poll Confirms What We Know: Catholics Support Marriage and Adoption Equality



Last week, a new poll from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life confirmed what other polls have been showing lately:  the majority of Catholics support marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples, as well as supporting adoption by lesbian and gay couples.  The report also shows that support among the general American population continues to grow.

Jonathan Capehart, a columnist and blogger for the The Washington Post, quotes from the poll’s report:

“For all the opposition by leaders in the Catholic Church, their flock isn’t following. ‘Nearly six-in-ten white non- Hispanic Catholics (59%) favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry,’ Pew reports, ‘as do 57% of Hispanic Catholics.’ This shouldn’t come as too surprising. Catholics have been leading the way on same-sex marriage for some time now.

“ ‘[T]here has been a rise in support for gay marriage across many demographic groups, even those who have traditionally been the most opposed,’ Pew explains. ‘A large portion of the growth in acceptance of gay marriage over the past two decades is the result of generational replacement — the arrival of younger, more supportive generations making up a larger share of the population. But the pace of change in support for gay marriage has increased in recent years across generational lines.’ ”

Capehart also shows the increase in support among Americans of all political stripes:

“In the four years since the 2008 survey, there has been a 15-percent jump in support among Democrats (65 percent), seven percent among Independents (51 percent) and five percent among Republicans (24 percent). Republicans are the most opposed to marriage equality (70 percent). Overall, 48 percent are in favor and 44 percent are not.”

Terence Weldon, who blogs at, cites the Catholic figures in more detail:

“First, note that Catholic overwhelmingly support gay marriage, by 58% to 33% – a margin of 25%, and identical for both White and Hispanic Catholic groups. This degree of support is greater than that shown by any other Christian grouping (Jews and other faiths are not identified), it is substantially higher than that for the population as a whole).

“This degree of support by Catholics, exceeding that for other groups, has now been well – established in numerous polls. It has also been previously noted that the growth in Catholic support has exceeded that in other groups. Just how dramatic that growth has been, can be seen by comparing the latest results with those from August / September 2010.  Then, Catholic support for gay marriage was at 46% –  a plurality over opposition of just 4%. That plurality has now grown from 4% to 25%, in less than two years, and up from 15% as recently as October 2011.”

“Combining the Pew report Religion and Attitudes to Same Sex Marriage from February this year with the latest results, we get:

Trend in Catholic Support for gay marriage (Pew)

Aug/ Sep 2010 Oct 2011 July 2012
Support 46% 52% 59%
Oppose 42% 37% 33%
Plurality 4% 15% 25%

Weldon also cites the statistics from the Pew report on support for adoption by lesbian and gay couples:

“Pew research demonstrates that just as Catholics are more supportive than other groups of gay marriage, Catholics are more supportive of gay adoption than other Christians, or the population at large. (One notable difference to the pattern for marriage, is a marked divergence between White and Hispanic Catholics).

It’s clear that Catholic support is strong and growing.  Just as with the issue of contraception, there is a great divide between the opinions of the Catholic faithful and the hierarchy on the issue of lesbian and gay relationships.  Instead of spending money opposing marriage equality legislation, the bishops should instead invest in meeting with lay leaders to understand their position, so that the voice of the Spirit in the Catholic Church can be more clearly discerned.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Mnistry


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