This is bound to boil some blood, but Cathy Lynn Grossman at USA Today's religion blog highlights two soon-to-be-released studies that show a positive correlation between a state's proportion of Catholics and level of support for gay marriage and other civilly defined rights. The studies, both from Columbia University (more on those at the blog Spiritual Politics), confirm other studies that have shown, for example, that Catholics support gay marriage more than any other U.S. religious group.
How to explain this, presuming that the stats are significant (and they may not be)? Grossman says it has something to do with Catholic social teaching, which, despite the U.S. bishops' and Vatican opposition to civil recognition of same-sex relationships, emphasizes fair treatment of everyone.
I'm not so sure there's an explicitly religious dimension to this, other than the general Catholic ethos that everyone has a place in the church. It's possible that Catholics are a little better able to distinguish civil questions from religious ones, and so don't feel threatened by civil arrangements for same-sex couples, though I have no real reason to believe that. Maybe it's just that Catholics still have more kids, and some of them are gay.
But it is interesting that, for a church whose leadership has been on the war path about gay marriage, the rank and file should be on such a totally different page.