Considered the largest pro-family demonstration held in the United States Commonwealth, the “Puerto Rico Stands Up” protest stopped traffic and included various Christian denominations.
“We are concerned that laws will be created to discriminated against the church. We are concerned that public education will be used to change our children, presenting them with behaviors their parents don’t think are correct,” said Puerto Rico for the Family Spokesperson Cesar Vazquez Muñiz in an interview with El Vocero.
“This demonstration tells the government that there are things that they cannot touch and those are marriage and family,” he added.
Recently reviewed by Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives, Law 54 protects all couples regardless of sexual orientation or marital status. Because of the bill, Christian groups marched with gospel music blasting and carried banners depicting only heterosexual marriages. Christian groups report that 200,000 to 268,000 showed up to protest against government officials giving rights to LGBT couples through new legislation.
Supporters of LGBT rights including various religious leaders and followers, responded with their own counterprotest, but did not outdo the number of anti-marriage equality protesters.
“I have met with both sides of the leadership. As governor I react to reason, not pressure. My government is a government of inclusion, we all live in this country, we are all responsible for a better country,” said Governor Alejandro García Padilla during an interview with Univision.
He stated that he would defend all communities with equal opportunity even though he personally doesn’t support marriage equality. Other marriage equality supporters also say the church promotes discrimination.
“One of the struggles I’ve had with the church is its sexist and homophobic message, and obviously when I see that they are using the resources they have to promote discrimination I cannot stay quiet because that is not the message of God,” a pastor was quoted as saying.
Currently, Puerto Rico does not have any legislation regarding LGBT rights protection. In addition to the marriage equality bill, lawmakers are also working on a bill that would prohibit discrimination of sexual orientation in the workplace.