Last month President Barack Obama declared unequivocal support for gay marriage and First Coast Latinos are vocal about the politically explosive idea.
“It’s a civil right’s victory”, said St. John’s resident Marlene García. “It was a miracle to hear him say he knows what it feels like to be discriminated against. And we, Latino gays, know better. We are not like the majority just for the fact of being Latinos in the US (and in this conservative area of Florida), but furthermore, we are also a minority for being gay,” the Cuban-American told Eco Latino.
Cuban lawyer Garcia said homosexuals couples face legal hurdles and a heavy financial burden bisexual unions don’t. “Gay couples can’t file taxes jointly or be covered by the healthcare plan of their partners, since those benefits are protected under the law that defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman.”
According to a most recent Gallup poll, the Latino view on homosexuality reflects a slightly higher degree of acceptance over the view of the general population: 55% of Latinos say homosexuality should be accepted by society. The report found 50 percent of all adults in favor of legal recognition of same-sex marriages. Majorities of Democrats (65 percent) and independents (57 percent) supported such recognition, while most Republicans (74 percent) said gay marriages should not be legal.
On the First Coast, established Republicans say Obama has alienated a large number of Evangelical Christian and Catholic Latino voters. “Marriage is a sacrament between a man and a woman and it’s in the roots of our culture as such,” said Chair of The Morales Group Cuban Ricardo Morales who also disagrees with Obama’s stance.
“Obama is using gay marriage to divide the country and to distract from his own dismal record on the economy,” said senator R-FL Marco Rubio.
Jorge Garcia, a local expert on preferences in the Latino community, said that president Obama will be interpreted differently in the different age groups and ethnicities within the Latino community. “It may matter mostly to older Hispanics but will make no difference to the younger, more urban city-dweller Latino. Cuban immigrants are more homophobic than Puerto Ricans, Brazilians or other South American cultures that are traditionally more accepting of sexual preferences, In Jorge García’s view, Obama’s change of heart on this issue is commendable and it was not a political ploy to court the liberal young or the LGBT population. In fact, most young Latinos gay, lesbian, and straight alike are already among those who helped Barack Obama win the presidency in 2008.
The president of Brunet-Garcia Advertising Inc. said that rather than gay marriage the economy, education, healthcare and immigration are issues that Latinos are more likely to be concerned about in November. ))