pr-protestIn the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan on Monday, over 200,000 Christians gathered as part of “Puerto Rico Stands Up”, one of the largest “pro-family” demonstrations held on the U.S. commonwealth.

The protestors organized in front of the Capitol building, blocking traffic in and out of the area, while blasting gospel music and brandishing banners defending so-called traditional marriage. They were also denouncing proposed legislation seeking to grant rights to gay couples.

Cesar Vazquez Muñiz, spokesman of Puerto Rico for the Family — the organization behind the rally — explained that their purpose was to protect traditional marriage and family values for the sake of, of course, the children.

“We are concerned that laws will be created to discriminate 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,” Vazquez told the Puerto Rican daily, El Vocero. “This demonstration tells the government that there are things that they cannot touch and those are marriage and family.”

Nearby, a smaller counter protest was going on in favor of gay rights, held by religious leaders and followers who refuted Puerto Rico Stands Up’s faith-based bigotry.

“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,” Pastor Yenen Silén told Univision.

The island’s newly elected governor Alejandro García Padilla held a press conference in which he stated that his government “is a government of inclusion” but reaffirmed his opposition to gay marriage.

“I favor the Law 54 which protects domestic partnership… As for marriage, I do not agree that it should be anything except between man and woman.,” he said. “But the rights that are guaranteed to people are those we have to look for and secure for all human beings.”

The Puerto Rican legislature is currently reviewing an amendment to the Domestic Violence Act, Law 54, that would protect all couples, regardless of marital status or sexual orientation, while the House of Representatives is working on a workplace non-discrimination bill.

Photo: Dennis A. Jones/El Vocero

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