A score of Hispanic organizations have thrown their support behind Familia es Familia (Family is Family), a pioneering bilingual effort to raise consciousness among Latinos about the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

The initiative is aimed at "educating the Latino community about issues relating to gays and lesbians and the discrimination and bullying they suffer at work, as well as in the family unit," campaign organizer Ingrid Duran told Efe on Monday.

"Ya es hora (It's Time): Let's talk about our gay and lesbian Latino friends and family members," reads the message on the campaign Web site.

Familia es Familia points to polls showing that 68 percent of Hispanic self-professed Catholics believe being gay is morally acceptable and 83 percent support laws to protect LBGT people from discrimination in housing and employment, while 62 percent back same-sex marriage.

Duran says she wants to "change the hearts and minds of Latinos so they understand that homosexual men and women are part of our family and that they have the same rights as other Americans."

The 21 organizations involved in the campaign include the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the Cuban American National Council, the National Council of La Raza and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Besides the Familia es Familia Web site, the initiative will work through videos, print publications and social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

"We are going to promote Latino human interest stories in the media and organize a campaign of commitment to the community via mobile telephones," said Duran, co-founder of the consulting firm D&P Creative Strategies.

"The polling shows that many in the Latino community already understand that there is one struggle for equality, a struggle that benefits from appreciating common mission," MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz said.

"Familia es Familia is a campaign that will help to deepen the understanding that a discriminatory deprivation of rights on any basis is a cause of concern for all," he said.

The effort coincides with the decision by several prominent Hispanic groups to express support for gay rights, encouraged by President Barack Obama's statement in May endorsing the idea of same-sex marriage.

And Monday brought news that actress and singer Jennifer Lopez is developing a television drama about a lesbian couple for the ABC Family cable network. EFE