A new study from the Public Religion Research Institute finds strikingly little difference between Catholics and most Americans on gay marriage:
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. 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%.
Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Catholics favor laws that would protect gay and lesbian people against discrimination in the workplace; Nearly 7‐in‐10 (69%) Catholics disagree that homosexual orientation can be changed; less 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 is not a sin. Among the general population, less than half (46%) believe it is not a sin (PRRI, Religion & Politics Tracking Survey, October 2010).
This also holds true for abortion, the death penalty, and divorce, where there is almost no difference between Catholics and the public writ large. On a similar note, in political stories, it makes no sense to treat Catholics as somehow separate from the American public at large. Given the large population of Catholics and their fairly mainstream views, it doesn't actually say much that a candidate "does well with Catholics." Anyone sufficiently popular will do well with Catholics. More interesting, for my part, are the views of conservative Christians (Catholic or otherwise), African American evangelicals, and religious minorities, which actually tend to be a little idiosyncratic.