NEW YORK - Hispanic ministers representing over 150 churches in New York rallied Thursday against the state's gay marriage bill, which is one vote short of being legalized in the New York Senate.
Supporters of New York Hispanic Clergy Organization gathered outside the office of Bronx Sen. Ruben Diaz to protest the gay marriage legislation and affirm their strong support for Diaz, the only Democrat state senator who will vote no on the bill. The Rev. Diaz, who is a Pentecostal minister, is the president of the Christian Hispanic group.
Diaz "has received many threats to his life and also negative comments towards his views. We say to those who have opposed, that we are united by our creed, belief, and he is not alone," said the Rev. Dr. Andy Torres, a vice president of NY Hispanic Clergy Organization.
The rally was held just after the same-sex marriage bill, known as the Marriage Equality Act, was passed by the New York State Assembly Wednesday evening, 80 to 63.
The gay marriage bill could hit the Senate floor for a vote as early as Friday. The legislation has garnered the support of 31 of the 62 Senators. The bill needs 32 votes for approval.
Sen. Mark Grisanti of Buffalo, among the Republican senators who are undecided on the bill, is considered a swing vote to legalize gay marriage.
In the past two days, organizations opposing the New York same-sex marriage bill have ramped up efforts to stop the legislation from passing. Pro-family and religious groups including, New York State Catholic Conference, New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, National Organization for Marriage and Christian Coalition have urged supporters to lobby key state senators, especially those who are undecided, to vote against the bill.
Speakers at the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization rally focused on mobilizing the Hispanic community. Upholding traditional marriage as defined in the Bible, the Hispanic Christian leaders called the gay marriage vote a "decisive moment" in the history of New York and among the Christian church.
"In this problem with same-sex marriage, the church cannot accept this because it's immoral," said Dr. Hector A. Chiesa, president of Radio Vision Cristiana 1330 AM, one of the largest Christian Spanish radio stations in New York.
"The church has to be prepared because God is going to hold us accountable for the sin of the people like Sodom and Gomorrah," he continued. "That is the reality. That's why Sodom and Gomorah were destroyed because of homosexuality and lesbianism and the abuse of women and children."
Chiesa also urged New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who proposed the same-sex marriage bill, to allow state residents to vote on the issue instead of acting like a dictator.
"If you believe you have the votes to pass this law, take it to the people," said the radio president. "Let the people vote! Let the people decide! Don't do it like Mussolini."
He also said the governor's actions go against the Bible and against morality.
Numerous speakers at the event addressed the negative impact of gay marriage on society.
Some of their arguments included:
1) Same-sex marriage will be detrimental to the psycho-social development of children. Research has shown that children who are raised in same-sex homes are at a greater risk of gender identity issue, and molestation within their own families.
2) Same-sex marriage will be harmful to society. Family is the foundation of society. The redefinition of this tradition will produce increased instability to the already unstable marriage crisis in America.
3) The redefinition of marriage will affect the educational system and what children are being taught in schools. As already seen in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage has become legal, the teaching of same-sex marriages being acceptable has been incorporated into lessons without the consent or knowledge of parents.
One of the speakers at the rally was a former lesbian named Gretchen Vigil who testified how she changed her lifestyle after becoming Christian. Vigil said she grew up in a home where her both her mom and grandmother were lesbians. She said she entered into the lesbian lifestyle after being molested by two women and became dissatisfied in her relationships with numerous men. She felt sad the way she was living but after she accepted Jesus Christ, she changed her lifestyle and found peace and joy.
The Rev. Joel M. Bauza, public relations director of New York Hispanic Clergy Organization and senior pastor of Calvary Church in Bronx, told The Christian Post that around 50-70 ministers and supporters joined the rally but they actually represent hundreds of thousands of church members around the state.
"This is only a portion of what we're capable of," he said.