Pedro Rossello, a popular former conservative governor of Puerto Rico, has endorsed gay marriage.

“We're in a period where it is important to speak about human rights,” Rossello said during a press conference held in late January. “In that context we should recognize the rights of all people regardless of their sexual orientation.”

“I'm here pushing for human rights, and that is a human right I believe in,” the former two-term governor said.

The stance is a reversal for Rossello, who as governor signed a law prohibiting the territory from recognizing the marriages of gay and lesbian couples held abroad.

Puerto Rican gay activist Pedro Julio Serrano called the endorsement “extraordinary.”

“We've reached a point of no return in Puerto Rico … Equality is inevitable,” he told the AP.

Two bills backed by the governing Popular Democratic Party address gay rights, but marriage remains on the back burner. One bill would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender, while the other would extend a domestic violence law to gay and lesbian couples.

The proposed legislation triggered a massive protest last month at the Capitol Building in San Juan. An estimated 200,000 people called on lawmakers to reject any measure which would redefine the family unit.

“This is very dangerous,” prominent Puerto Rican pastor Wanda Rolon told the crowd. “It's going to raise some doubts that can bring about confusion.”

In 2011, Rolon made headlines when she criticized singer Ricky Martin's coming out, saying he was leading his fans to “hell.”

(Related: Puerto Rico's highest court affirms gay adoption ban.)