Marriage supporters — nearly 200,000 of them — flocked to Puerto Rico’s Capitol Building in San Juan Monday urging lawmakers to defend marriage as a union of one man and one woman.
The crowd represented a notable percentage of the island’s population of three-and-a-half million. People of diverse backgrounds and denominations including Pentecostal, Baptist, Catholic and Disciples of Christ participated.
The U.S. territory does not allow same-sex marriage. However, a constitutional amendment defining marriage as one-man and one-woman failed in 2008, meaning civil unions or other bills granting special protections to same-sex couples could become law.
The rally was a pre-emptive strike against creating same-sex marriage in Puerto Rico, according to Caribbean Business.
“The majority of Puerto Ricans believe marriage is what it has always been: one man and one woman, and that family comes forth from that relationship,” rally coordinator Dr. Cesar Vázquez Muñíz told CitizenLink. “It affirms the values on marriage and family that our society has had all its history.”
Legislation similar to the federally proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act, he said, was a contributing factor for spearheading the rally, he said. The bill would give special protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace. Pressure to redefine marriage by Puerto Rican lawmakers and President Obama also inspired the event.
Vázquez Muñíz formed the group Puerto Rico por la Familia just two months ago. In just 4 weeks, he and the group organized the rally.
The group is concerned about laws that would allow same-sex partners to adopt, and others that could force schools to endorse homosexuality.
“Education changes attitudes and can promote behavior,” Vázquez Muñíz explained. “This will cause confusion in young people’s sexual identity and will promote behaviors that are hurtful. Above all, it will create conflict between the values of the children and their parents and churches. For us, this is unacceptable.”
He said Puerto Rico’s laws cannot be a substitute for the role of parents, who are responsible for the formation of values in their children.
“This is the first role of the family, which is why we will not compromise in this,” he added. “This is why we are aware of what public schools will teach, because the ones who will be ultimately impacted will be our children and grandchildren — the next generation.”
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