The Washington Post

Catholics lead the way on same-sex marriage

The Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that same-sex marriage is supported by 53 percent of those surveyed. That's amazing. For the first time in the poll's history, the level of support for marriage equality cracked 50 percent. For the first time, a majority of  men (53 percent) say yes to allowing gays to wed. But what's truly historic is where white Catholics are on this issue.

The question was straightforward: “Do you think it should be illegal or legal for gay and lesbian couples to get married?” In February 2010, an astounding 55 percent of white Catholics said "legal." In the current poll, the number jumped 8 points to 63 percent. This Post-ABC News poll corresponds with a Gallup poll I gasped at in June 2010. That survey showed that Catholics (62 percent) and men (53 percent) were leading the charge on acceptance of same-sex marriage, which was supported by 52 percent of all surveyed.

This doesn't come as a surprise to Phil Attey, executive director of Catholics for Equality, who alerted me to this interesting nugget in the Post-ABC News polling data. "American Catholics consistently poll higher on progressive social justice issues — including the freedom to marry for all," he said. "Our Catholic faith tradition is strongly based on social justice and our duty to take care of those who are unjustly oppressed and marginalized." He went on to say, "Our families have already dealt with this issue at a personal level, and Catholics largely base their moral understanding of the world through their personal relationships, not by the dictates of institutional forces, be they from our church hierarchy in Rome or conservative political groups. We see healthy, happy gay and lesbian families within our families, parishes and communities, and we know love and commitment when we see it."

May these latest poll results help the nascent and long-term effort in Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. It won't happen overnight, and it won't be easy. But with more and more Americans siding with equality, there should be no fear of doing what is right.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.


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