Roughly 2,000 people turned out for a Bronx anti-gay marriage rally that was sponsored by Rev. Ruben Diaz, a Democratic state senator who represents part of the Bronx, and two Spanish-language Christian radio stations.
“The message of today is even more powerful because you have come out in the rain,” Diaz told the crowd that gathered outside the Bronx Borough Hall building.
About 1,500 people marched from 149th Street and 3rd Avenue in the Bronx to the rally site where another 500 were waiting. The march was led by a band from the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, a lay Roman Catholic group. Joining Diaz at the front of the march was Brian S. Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage.
Diaz called for a referendum on marriage in New York noting that Americans have consistently voted against the lesbian and gay community on such ballot initiatives.
“In every state, including California, the people have rejected marriage between a man and a man and a woman and a woman,” he said at the May 15 event. “Let us vote. Let the people decide.”
A consistent theme that ran through the march and rally was that the participants do not hate gay men and lesbians.
“We all respect you,” Diaz said as he pointed to the small group of counter demonstrators who were standing in a park across from the building. “We respect you and we love you...So you guys over there, listen. There’s no hatred in my heart.”
His granddaughter was among the counter demonstrators and she joined Diaz as he spoke.
“My granddaughter loves me and I love her,” Diaz said as he hugged and kissed her.
Brown told the crowd that they were defending not only marriage, but their religious freedom.
“They have shut down Christian adoption agencies,” Brown said referring to two Roman Catholic adoption agencies that closed rather than place children with gay and lesbian parents. “This is a question of civil rights. It’s a question of our civil rights...I ask you today to stand up for your civil rights.”