A survey released Wednesday shows
strong support among U.S. Roman Catholics for gay unions and rights.
An overwhelming majority of Catholics
support civil marriages for gay and lesbian couples, and perhaps even
three-quarters of respondents to a Public Religion Research Institute
survey favor either allowing marriage (43%) or civil unions (31%)
for gay couples. Twenty-two percent of Catholics object to any
But when marriage is defined as a civil
marriage “like you get at city hall,” Catholic support skyrockets
to seventy-one percent.
A majority of Catholics also support
laws that would outlaw discrimination in the workplace based on
sexual orientation (73%), the right of gay and bisexual troops to
serve openly (63%), and allowing gay couples to adopt children (60%),
the survey found.
“It may come as a surprise to many
that rank and file Catholics are more supportive of rights for gays
and lesbians than other Christians and the public,” Dr. Robert P.
Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, said in a
statement. “But the best data available paints this consistent
portrait across a range of issues, including same-sex marriage,
workplace non-discrimination, open military service, and adoption
rights for gay and lesbian couples.”
Additionally, a majority of Catholics
(56%) do not believe gay sex is a sin. Forty-six percent of
Catholics agree that it is sinful.
In several areas, Catholics are more
supportive of gay rights and unions than the general population,
despite the church's teachings that homosexuality is a “disorder”
and Pope Benedict's vocal opposition to gay marriage.
“Most American Catholics believe that
one can be a good Catholic and disagree with the Vatican and the
bishops on issues of personal conscience; gay marriage has clearly
become another issue … which Catholics believe is not core to what
it means to be a Catholic,” Dr. Michelle Dillon, chair of the
Sociology Department of University of New Hampshire, said.