Support for gay marriage on the rise among Latinos

UTPA student Jose Flores

His announcement in support of gay marriage landed President Barack Obama on the cover of Newsweek magazine, calling him the first gay president.

But, his declaration and the effect it will have on young Latino voters in the Valley is yet to be seen.

"What we're seeing today is, we're seeing young Hispanic/Latinos being more open minded about society and what we value as a culture," Eden Ramirez with the UTPA Young Democrats said.

According to the Pew Research Center, support for gay marriage is on the rise among Latinos of all ages.

Figures from four years ago showed support nearly split among Latinos between the ages of 18 and 29, with 50 percent in favor.

Shift forward, and that age group leads by numbers, with 58 percent of young voters believing in gay marriage.

But the largest gain in support is among adults ages 30 and 49.

Four years ago only 35 percent of them supported it, currently the number stands at 45 percent.

Meanwhile, support from voters ages 50 and above nearly remained the same from 30 percent to 32 percent over the past four years.

But for voters like Jose Flores, a pre-med junior at the University of Texas-Pan American, social issues like gay marriage are second on the list.

Right now we have to focus, I feel like we have to focus on the economy, Flores said. "I don TMt really consider myself a Democrat or Republican| whichever one has the best plan for the country is the one I'm going to go for."

Nonetheless, political groups are hoping the president's announcement will draw Latinos to their side.

Be it, either Republicans, who believe marriage should be between one man and one woman, a view largely shared by older Latinos; or Democrats, who are counting on changing attitudes on the topic to work on their favor with younger voters.

"We see right now young dreamers are aligning themselves with the president's stance in supporting gay marriage because we understand the same struggles that we face when minorities are oppressed for some reason or another," Ramirez added.

Regardless of their stance, both groups are counting on young Latino voters to head to the polls in November.

Obama's presumed opponent, Republican Mitt Romney, has stated he believes marriage should be between one man and one woman.