The Latino vote varies according to religion: while Catholics and people without religious affiliation overwhelmingly support President Barack Obama, Hispanic evangelicals are divided, according to a report released Thursday by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

That division exists also on support for same-sex marriage, with 52 percent of Hispanics in general in favor and 66 percent of Latino evangelicals opposed.

Support for the incumbent Democratic president is overwhelming among Hispanics without any religious affiliation, who back Obama over rival Republican Mitt Romney by 82 percent to 7 percent.

Among Latino Catholics, 73 percent say they support the Democratic candidate and 19 percent the Republican.

Out of every 10 evangelical Protestants surveyed by Pew, five support Obama and four favor Romney.

This division is explained by the "double reality" in which evangelicals live, University of Michigan Professor Daniel Ramirez told Efe on Thursday.

At church they are exposed to the "rightist discourse," but they do not live isolated from the Hispanic community, immigration problems and "the xenophobia against Latinos over the past 15 years."

"They live in another reality from evangelical whites and that impedes evangelical Latinos from supporting 100 percent the program of the ... religious right," Ramirez added.

Support among Latinos for same-sex unions grew from 31 percent in 2006 to 52 percent now, an unusual jump, according to Ramirez, that goes beyond "generational change" in the United States.

The favorable opinion of gay marriage can be explained by the "broader" concept of family Hispanics have compared with the "more nuclear" vision of Anglos, he suggests.

"It's true that there's machismo in Hispanic cultures and it's strengthened by their religions, but the concept of the family is broader, which creates more tolerance for the members of the family who are different. They think about them when they vote and are aware that they're not going to vote for an option that harms their direct relatives," the professor explained.

The survey was performed among 1,765 people and has an error margin of around plus/minus 4 percent.

Of the total number of Latino registered voters, calculations are that 57 percent are Catholic, 16 percent are evangelical Protestants and 15 percent have no religious affiliation. EFE