The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and the Knights of Columbus are the leading groups behind a new coalition working to derail a gay marriage bill in Rhode Island.

The Faith Alliance to Preserve the Sanctity of Marriage as Established by God also includes representatives from the Catholic Church and a number of Hispanic and Latino church groups.

About 200 people joined the nascent group at the State House rotunda on Tuesday afternoon as House lawmakers were preparing to begin a public hearing on the bill.

“Marriage is a sacred covenant between God, man and woman,” Rev. Luis Rodriguez, chairman of the Faith Alliance and president of the Hispanic Ministerial Association, said in a statement. “It was the first covenant that God made with man and woman. The Church and God-fearing people have been given the charge to protect and preserve God's holy institution of marriage.”

“Unfortunately, there is a tendency to logically or purposefully associate matters of homosexuality with same sex marriage. While the former may be a right of personal choice or innate sexual orientation, the latter is a privilege ordained by God and administered by the state. Once this distinction is clearly articulated through our collective efforts, we are confident that the people of Rhode Island will strongly urge their state legislators to hear the voice of the people,” he added.

At a press conference on Monday, marriage equality supporters announced Rhode Islanders United for Marriage.

(Related: Lincoln Chafee urges Rhode Island lawmakers to approve gay marriage.)