Evangelical Latino Politicians/Pastors Lead Fight Against Same-sex Marriage in New York
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed May 20, 2009 at 12:25:38 PM EST
Mega-evangelical Samuel Rodriguez joins with Senator Ruben Diaz to rally opponents to gay marriage.

Years from now - I won't venture a guess as to how many but I am fairly certain by that time the names Carrie Prejean and Perez Hilton will be mere footnotes - when the history of the struggle over gay rights and same-sex marriage is written, there will be plenty of heroes/heroines to be honored, and more than enough villains to go around. Maybe villains is too strong a term; how about anti-gay true believers whose beliefs resulted in real harm? For every courageous couple in Iowa or Massachusetts who, against great odds, have pressed on, there are those that have made it their business to stand (metaphorically for now) in the courthouse doorway.

For now, if you've been following the battle over same-sex marriage and you don't know who the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez or Rubén Díaz are, you likely soon will.

Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), and Diaz, a New York state Senator from the Bronx a Pentecostal pastor in that borough, are two key players leading anti-same-sex marriage forces in New York State.

On Sunday, May 17, while much of the "culture war" crowd was focused on events at Notre Dame University -- where President Barack Obama was heartily welcomed by UND graduates and their families - things were hopping in New York City. Thousands of anti-same-sex marriage activists marched in opposition to Governor David Patterson's gay marriage bill.

State Assembly passes same-sex marriage legislation

The Christian Post reported that the mostly Latino crowd, which gathered at the Governor's Manhattan office, "stretched from 35th to 40th Street on 3rd Avenue in New York City."

At the same time hundreds of marriage-equality advocates gathered at a rally near Rockefeller Center. Speakers at the pro-marriage equality rally included New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council speaker Christine Quinn, state assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell, and actors Cynthia Nixon, David Hyde Pierce, Cheyenne Jackson, and Gavin Creel.

Last week, the New York State Assembly passed the marriage equality bill by an 89 to 52 vote. According to Box Turtle Bulletin, "The Assembly voted for a marriage bill in 2007, as well. But in that vote the count was 85 to 61. And while this year's vote only has four more `yes' votes, the margin of victory increased from 24 to 37." How the bill will fare in the State senate is anybody's guess.

Among the leaders of the protest was Rubén Díaz who had earlier charged Patterson with disrespecting religious groups by introducing gay marriage legislation on April 16, a few days before the weeks of Passover and Easter began. As if it would have been okay on May Day!

Charisma News Online reported that at this time, Diaz has expressed near certainty that the bill will not pass in the Senate, as it "lacks the 32 votes needed to pass the measure, even though there are 32 Democratic senators."

"I have the commitment form six Democrats that they will not vote for it," Díaz said. "So they're going to have to go to the Republicans if they want to pass it in the Senate. But this is a Democratic agenda, and I doubt that the Republicans would jump on board to make the Democrats look good."

According to Charisma News Online, "Even if the gay marriage bill is reintroduced every year, Díaz promises to block it. `I'm a preacher. I'm not only a state senator. I would not vote for that.'"

Joining Diaz at the demonstration was a coalition that included Radio Vision Cristiana International, the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization, the CONLICO network of bishops and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC).

"Radio Vision has been motivated to respond to ... Paterson and every other elected official, to let them know that we are not sleeping and that we will not stay idle with our hands crossed while they pressure and promote marriage between persons of the same sex," said the Rev. Milton Donato, president of Radio Vision Cristiana.

According to Gay City News, "Diaz credited Radio Vision Cristiana, a New Jersey-based AM radio station that broadcasts religious programming, with turning out the [huge] crowd" which, organizers claimed, included representatives from 3,000 churches from the tri-state area.

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez

Amongst this group of pastors and politicians, Samuel Rodriquez has the highest public profile and biggest national platform. In late April, Rodriguez's NHCLC (NHCLC) and the Hispanic National Association of Evangelicals, sponsored the third Annual Hispanic/African American Evangelical Summit in the Baltimore Metropolitan area.

"With approximately 1,700 in attendance, this event establishes the gathering as the premier Black/Brown faith event in our nation. The African American Hispanic Summit served the Christian community as it provided a venue for multi-layered, cross cultural interactions," declared Dr. Angel Nunez, NHCLC Senior Vice President and National Director of the Hispanic/Black Evangelical Alliance.

"Hispanics and African Americans stand as the Peter and John of the 21st Century American Church. We stand before the Gate called Beautiful. Our communities once again lie crippled, paralyzed and without hope. We, the Black and the Brown may not have all the silver or the gold but what we have we give; In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth we tell our families, communities and nation, get up and walk," stated Rodriguez.

In early May, in a post at the "On Faith" website sponsored by Newsweek and The Washington Post Rodriguez criticized President Obama for "demonstrate[ing] his brand of political correctness by acknowledging a day of prayer and simultaneously rejecting the idea that the White House should somehow commemorate the day in an official event."

As Frederick Clarkson recently pointed out here, Rodriguez was a signatory to a document titled "Come Let Us Reason Together: A Fresh Look at Shared Cultural Values Between Evangelicals and Progressives (CLURT)", a document aimed at establishing "common ground" between evangelicals and progressive religious.
At the anti-same-sex marriage 3-hour extravaganza, Diaz told the Crowd: "They accuse us of homophobia. They accuse us of being radicals... They accuse us of many things because they want to close the mouth of the church."

Rabbi Yehuda Levin and Tony Perkins fire up the crowd

Rabbi Yehuda Levin of Brooklyn, a longtime anti-gay activist, playedf the fear card to its fullest possible extent:

"If this legislation passes, God forbid, you and I will be considered by the state law as bigots, as discriminating. They will take away from our religious schools the tax deductions. They will not give us any government for our schools. They will make our marriage counselors counsel homosexual couples. Our accountants will have to do taxes for married homosexual couples. Our children will be brought in school "Heath has Two Mommies" ... The full force of the state government will come downb on us like a ton of bricks. We will be outcasts."

And, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a Washington, D.C.-based lobby group, was also on hand. "The politicians are unleashing chaos on our children, on our families, and on our nation by redefining marriage... One thing stands in the way of this chaos - you," Perkins told the crowd.


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