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 gay 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 gay 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 gay unions, allow same-sex couples to adopt and change the curriculum relating to gender that is taught in schools.
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 percent primarily belong to various Protestant denominations.
According to the latest polls, 52 percent of Puerto Ricans attend church at least once per week, which makes the island among the seven most religious countries in the world.