But for Bishop Angel Nunez of the Bilingual Christian Church of Baltimore, a longtime CASA of Maryland ally, the news struck out of nowhere.
Nunez has long worked with CASA to promote immigrant causes, including the Dream Act in-state tuition initiative, but he strongly opposes same-sex marriage.
“Pastors are calling me up saying, ‘What’s going on here?’ ” he said, adding that he has been urging his 250 regular congregants, who hail from 23 nations, to vote for the Dream Act and against the Civil Marriage Protection Act.“I don’t know if I feel betrayed or not, but right now I’m confused.”
Typically, he said, he gets e-mails from CASA about its plans. But this time, Nunez said he didn’t know what CASA was up to until he read in the newspaper about the alliance, which also includes the prominent Latino advocacy group National Council of La Raza.
“No outreach got to us . . . to at least say, ‘I know we don’t agree on this, but this is what we’re doing,’ ” he said.
The alliance, according to its members, aims to enable champions of in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants and same-sex marriage to draw support from each other’s members at the ballot box. When announcing it, CASA cited an April report from the Pew Hispanic Center showing that 59 percent of Latinos think that homosexuality should be accepted by society. A report released by the National Council of La Raza and Social Science Research Solutions in April found that 54 percent of Hispanics in the country support same-sex marriage, a slightly higher percentage than the general population.
Experts say that younger Latinos and those whose families immigrated less recently are more likely to be open to same-sex marriage.
But many Latino religious leaders remain staunchly opposed to the referendum that would allow civil marriage for gay men and lesbians. The alliance has brought to the surface a conflict many Maryland Hispanics face between supporting an organization that has helped them in the past and going against deeply held religious beliefs.
And while many are eager to see the Dream Act pass, their enthusiasm does not translate to supporting the marriage equality referendum.
Calling Nunez “a huge leader in our community” and a longtime ally of his organization, Gustavo Torres, CASA’s executive director, said last week that the failure to inform him about the alliance was “totally an oversight.”
“We had conversations about this issue probably four or five months ago,” Torres said, “but I didn’t mention to him directly that I’m going to endorse Equality Maryland.”