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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 29, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 26
National Council of La Raza endorses marriage equality
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National Council of La Raza endorses marriage equality

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The largest Latino civil rights organization in the United States - the National Council of La Raza - endorsed marriage equality at its June 9 board of directors meeting, NCLR leaders told The Washington Blade.

The vote reportedly was unanimous, and came only a month after the NAACP board also endorsed equal marriage rights for Gay and Lesbian couples.

After President Obama's statement on marriage in May, NCLR President Janet Murguía applauded him for his 'historic remarks expressing support for marriage equality.'

'The board in essence validated that, and said we fully support Janet's position. Consistent with that belief, they expressed for themselves the belief that marriage equality is consistent with the mission - the civil rights mission - of our organization,' NCLR vice president of public policy Eric Rodriguez told the Blade.

'NCLR has taken a strong stand on marriage equality and our board of directors wanted to affirm and support that decision, which I very much appreciate,' Murguía said.

Former NCLR board chair Danny Ortega confirmed that all 25 board members supported the pro-equality resolution.

'We had a discussion about this and clearly some people had more questions than others, but at the end of the discussion it was unanimous,' he said.

NCLR board member Catherine Pino said the group's resolution reflects growing support for same-sex marriage among Latinos.

'There's just all this momentum,' she said. 'For NCLR to do something like this is huge. This is really, really important for our community. The board, the organization, realizes that there are many, many Latino LGBT people who are part of our community.'

An Arcus Foundation poll released by NCLR and Social Science Research Solutions in April showed that 54% of Latinos support marriage rights for same-sex couples.

The same poll found that 78% of Latinos support repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and 83% support laws prohibiting discrimination against LGBT workers.

Nevertheless, the poll also found that the majority of Latinos who identify themselves as religious remain opposed to same-sex marriage. Only 43% of Latinos who identify as Protestant back marriage rights for same-sex couples, for example.

Pino said that the majority of Latinos she has encountered support equality.

'Our community is really evolving,' she said. 'We're coming to a place where we've realized that marriage equality is basically a civil rights issue.

'It doesn't mean that Latinos want to get married in any of the churches. It's about equality. And I think that a lot of our Latino brothers and sisters realize that and don't think we should be denied that opportunity.'

NCLR claims more than 300 affiliated community-based organizations in 41 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. It has regional offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, and San Antonio.

Other Latino civil rights leaders have also endorsed marriage equality.

The Texas chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens passed a same-sex marriage resolution during its annual convention earlier this month. LULAC National President Margaret Moran also applauded Obama's public support of marriage equality.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund's president, Thomas A. Saenz, has also endorsed same-sex marriage.

His organization has not only represented people with HIV in discrimination cases, but has also filed briefs supporting challenges to California's Prop 8 and similar laws in other states.

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