The gay marriage debate spilled onto
the streets of New York Sunday as thousands rallied for and against
the institution, reports New York-based gay weekly Gay
Opponents staged their political rally
turned church sermon on the steps of the Manhattan offices of New
York Governor David Paterson.
Last month, the Democratic governor
announced he would personally lobby for a gay marriage bill, adding
he wanted the Senate to debate the issue even if it failed. Assembly
members quickly approved the bill last Tuesday by a wide margin.
Passage came as no surprise to Albany watchers who say the real fight
lays ahead in the Senate.
New York's most vocal gay marriage
opponent is a senator from the Bronx, Senator Ruben Diaz.
Immediately after the governor announced he would personally shepherd
the gay marriage bill through the Legislature, Diaz, a Pentecostal
minister who heads the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization, called
for the anti-gay marriage rally.
“They accuse us of homophobia,”
Diaz told an estimated crown of 20,000. “They accuse us of being
radicals … They accuse us of many thing because they want to close
the mouth of the church.”
“The sleeping giant has awakened and
nothing can make him go back to sleep,” Diaz roared.
Speakers decried Paterson and his
political allies for supporting gay marriage, saying they would be
run out of town.
“The day will come when the hand of
God shall use these people to take him out, out, out,” said Rev.
Miguel Rivera, president of the National Coalition of Latino
“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,” Tony
Perkins, president of the socially conservative Family Research
Council, told the crowd.
The rally drew a crowd of mostly Latino
churchgoers who danced, sang and waved Bibles in the air along five
crowded city blocks.
In contrast, a pro-gay marriage rally
drew less attention, taking only two city blocks near Times Square,
but shined with star power.
The rally opened with a show tune by
the Broadway cast of Hair, followed by openly lesbian Cynthia
Nixon, star of Sex and the City. Finally, the politicos took
the stage, including Governor Paterson, Mayor Michael Bloomberg,
openly lesbian Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and openly gay state
Senator Tom Duane. Duane, the sponsor of the gay marriage bill in
the Senate, reassured the crowd that the bill would pass.
“And we're going to do it with
bipartisan support,” Duane told a cheering crowd. “And we're
going to do it with votes to spare. I promise.”