SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — More than 100,000 people gathered outside the Puerto Rican capitol in San Juan on Feb. 18 to support the defense of marriage and family against proposed legislation on same-sex unions.
Puerto Rico for the Family organized the march, which brought together Christians of various denominations, as well as members of religiously unaffiliated pro-life and pro-family groups.
Media reports estimated a turnout of between 100,000 and 200,000, which is a record for Puerto Rico, an island with a population of only 3.6 million.
The president of the United Ministry for the Family, Dr. Cesar Vasquez Muniz, said the demonstration came about “in response to threats against marriage and the family.”
The march “is an act to defend our rights and protect children,” he said.
Bishop Daniel Fernandez Torres of Arecibo, who took part in the pro-family march, said that when a society dismantles the traditional family, it is destined for ruin and destruction.
A parallel march organized by homosexual-rights advocates attracted just hundreds of attendees, according to local media reports.
Puerto Rico’s Senate and House of Representatives are currently debating measures that would legalize homosexual unions, allow same-sex couples to adopt and alter the curriculum that is taught in schools to be gender-neutral.
Organizers of the march said the proposals constitute “a legislative attack against our freedom of conscience, freedom of expression and of religion.”
The passage of these measures would lay the foundation for legal discrimination against the Church and Christians, they said, and would lead to the marginalization of Christian values from the laws that govern the island.
Seventy percent of Puerto Ricans identify as Catholic, while the other 30% primarily belong to various Protestant denominations.
According to the latest polls, 52% of Puerto Ricans attend church at least once per week, which makes the island among the seven most religious territories/countries in the world.