More Catholics = more gay rights?

Posted on 29 Jul 2009 at 10:22am

Pope Benedict and former President George Bush
Pope Benedict and former President George Bush

A new, soon-to-be-published study by political scientists at Columbia University and a survey by Mark Silk at Spiritual Politics suggests there may be a link between the percentage of Catholics who live in a state and where that state stands in terms on civil rights protections for LGBT people.

You probably aren’t surprised to hear that. But what might surprise you is that the states with higher percentages of Catholics usually rate better on the LGBT rights scale, according to a story by USA Today’s Cathy Lynn Grossman in her Faith and Reason column.

According to the study by Jeffrey Lax and Justin Phillips, “For adoption, marriage, and civil unions, conservative state majorities can win out. But for hate crimes, health benefits, housing protection, and job protection, there is no tyranny of the majority blocking minority rights. Indeed, here, the majority seems to favor these civil rights protections.”

And Silk found, “Six of the eight states where 50 percent or more of the public supports gay marriage are the states with the highest proportion of Catholics, ranging from Rhode Island at 46 percent to New York and California at 37 percent.”

Why?

Grossman suggests that event though officials in the Catholic Church, from the Pope on down, quite frequently campaign strongly against LGBT rights initiatives, the church, in general, has a history of promoting social justice.

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