DENVER — A group of Hispanic voters is planning to rally at the Democratic National Convention in order to bring family centered issues to the Democratic party.
The convention will be held in Denver in August, as Democrats gather to crown their presumptive nominee, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.
Organizers of the group note that Hispanic voters have long been a voting bloc of the Democratic Party and their support has been particularly crucial to primary election candidates.
“As our numbers grow, our influence is growing,” said Rev. Sam Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
Rodriguez, a board member of the Alliance for Marriage, said that the rally would focus particularly on protecting traditional marriage. “It is time for leaders of both political parties to put protecting marriage and strong family values at the center of their agenda.”
The issue of same-sex “marriage” has regained priority status among religious voters, after the California Supreme Court decided in favor of such unions and New York Gov. David Paterson issued a directive ordering the state to recognize same-sex “marriages” from California, Massachusetts and Canada.
Matt Daniels, president and founder of the Alliance for Marriage, stated that it was vital to build support for a federal marriage amendment.
“Americans believe that gays and lesbians are free to live as they choose, but they don’t believe they have a right to redefine marriage for our entire society,” said Daniels.
The event will be one of many rallies during the convention and will feature leaders of the broad coalition of Americans who favor the Marriage Protection Amendment. Hispanic leaders and voters are expected to feature at the marriage rally, as they remain an important voting bloc.
Rodriguez noted that it was important to remind not only Democrats but also Republicans of the importance of Hispanic family values.
“For far too long the votes of Latinos have been taken for granted by Republicans and Democrats,” he said.
The Alliance for Marriage Foundation is also planning to stage a rally in Minneapolis during the Republican convention.
Mario Paredes, executive director of the newly created Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (CALL) noted that members of the group plan to join the rally.
“The future of marriage and family in America is no different,” he stated. “We, in the Latino community, must stand and make our voices heard united as one.”
CALL is an organization of men and women committed to serving as a national voice for Catholic, Latino business and professional leaders in the United States.
Natalie Wyeth, the press secretary for the Democratic National Convention Committee, noted that the committee recognized the importance of the freedoms protected by the First Amendment and welcomed discussion on important issues during the convention.
“Down the line, when we become involved in discussions about various groups planning events surrounding the convention, we will welcome a dialogue on these issues,” Wyeth stated. “The Denver convention is an opportunity to broaden the conversation about what it truly means to be a ‘big tent’ party — beyond regional and ethnic diversity to include an expanding array of people who share our values.”
Brian Burch, president of Fidelis, a Catholic political action organization, disagreed.
“There’s clearly no room within the big tent for traditional marriage advocates because that position cannot coexist with a position that holds that marriage between two consenting same-sex adults is legally equivalent,” he said.
Burch noted that, in the past, the Democratic leaders fought successfully against the Marriage Protection Amendment, and that Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has pledged to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
The Defense of Marriage Act, signed by Bill Clinton in 1996, states that the federal government and state governments are not required to recognize same-sex “marriages” even if they are legal in certain states.
“I think that it’s reasonable to look at what he [Obama] said and assume that this is the direction that the Democratic Party will take concerning marriage law in the United States,” Burch said. “Voters who consider the defense of traditional marriage a significant issue of concern need to examine the direction that the Democratic leaders will take in the next four to eight years.”
Charlie Spiering is based in