The most notable result of the new Public Religion Research Institute survey of attitudes toward Proposition 8 is the divide between Latino Catholics and Latino Protestants. The former are more in favor of same-sex marriage than any other ethno-religious group in the survey; the former are more opposed. (That’s Catholics 57-38 in favor versus Protestants 73-22 opposed.) The correlation that’s caught most attention is the disproportionately high number of Latino Catholics (41 percent) who think of God as an impersonal force. Although we’re unfortunately not given a number for Latino Protestants, we are meant to assume that most of them regard God “as a person with whom one can have a relationship.”
I can’t dispute the Catholic number, but it makes no sense to me as an explanation. Latino Catholicism is, by all accounts, rich in personal connection–to the Virgin Mary and other saints, for example. I’d suggest that for Latino Protestants–as for evangelicals generally–same-sex marriage is a major issue, in effect a defining element of their faith. For Latino Catholics, it’s not.