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Catholics and gays: Closer than you think

March 22, 2011 |  1:16 pm

A new study by the Public Religion Research Institute  is titled: "Catholic Attitudes on Gay and Lesbian Issues."

Among the findings:


Catholics are more supportive of legal recognition of same-sex relationships than members of any other Christian tradition and Americans overall. Nearly three-quarters of Catholics favor either allowing gay and lesbian people to marry (43%) or allowing them to form civil unions (31%). Only 22% of Catholics say there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple's relationship.

When same-sex marriage is defined explicitly as a civil marriage, support is dramatically higher among Catholics. If marriage for gay couples is defined as a civil marriage "like you get at city hall," Catholic support for allowing gay couples to marry increases by 28 points, from 43% to 71%.

Catholics overwhelmingly reject the idea that sexual orientation can be changed. Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) disagree that homosexual orientation can be changed. Fewer than 1 in 4 (23%) believe that it can be changed.

A majority of Catholics (56%) believe that sexual relations between two adults of the same gender [are] not a sin. Among the general population, less than half (46%) believe it is not a sin.

 You have to read the report to get the nuances, but these points suggest that many Catholics are out of step with the hierarchy on these issues -- or vice versa.

--Michael McGough

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