It’s nice to see that American Catholics are paying less and less attention to what comes out of their church leaders’ mouths. Here are the results of a new study:

Catholics are more supportive of legal recognitions of same-sex relationships than members of any other Christian tradition and Americans overall. 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.

When same-sex marriage is defined explicitly as a civil marriage, support is dramatically higher among Catholics. 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%. A similar pattern exists in the general population, but the Catholic increase is more pronounced.

Beyond the issue of same-sex marriage, Catholic support for rights for gays and lesbian people is strong and slightly higher than the general public. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Catholics favor laws that would protect gay and lesbian people against discrimination in the workplace; 63% of Catholics favor allowing gay and lesbian people to serve openly in the military; and 6-in-10 (60%) Catholics favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt children.

Here’s Lawrence O’Donnell’s report on the same study:

[h/t Andrew Sullivan]

Of course, Kathryn Jean Lopez, the prudish, unmarried editor of National Review Online, has her own retort to this. Read it out loud with pursed lips:

It is worth pointing out that those poll numbers change dramatically if you look at Catholics who actually attend Mass on Sundays.

That ever-dwindling group?