Opponents to gay marriage call on NYS Senate and God
"The day will come when the hand of God shall use these people to take him out, out, out," said the Revered Miguel Rivera, president of the National Coalition of Latino Ministers, referring to Paterson's political future."
At a rally held in New York on Sunday, May 17th, opponents to gay marriage in New York State called on the senate and God to "...stop the advance of same-sex marriage in New York."
The gathering of marriage equality opponents began just four hours prior to a pro-gay rally near Times Square that featured the governor and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a registered Independent seeking a third term on the Republican line in November.
Like many speakers at the nearly three-hour anti-gay marriage rally, Rivera spoke in Spanish and a translator gave a lively rendering of the reverend's already spirited speech, punctuating each "out" in Spanish with another in English. The translator acted like a chorus for many of the speakers, often making the rally sound more like a revival meeting than a political event.
Indeed, the rally opened and closed with a prayer. Participants arrived, some coming directly from church, and left holding their Bibles in the air. They listened to religious music prior to the start of the speeches and prayed or sang.
Rally organizers put the crowd at 20,000 or 30,000, though such estimates seemed high. Those in attendance were held in block-long pens that took up two or three lanes of traffic on the west side of Third Avenue, with the pens stretching from 40th Street south to 35th Street.
The rally stage was at 40th Street but the sound system only reached to 39th Street, so much of what transpired on the stage could not be heard in the lower blocks. People in those pens gathered in circles, held hands and prayed, sang songs, and chanted "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus" to the traffic passing by.
The Reverend Ruben Diaz, a rally organizer, Democratic state senator representing part of the Bronx, and ardent gay marriage foe, adopted a standard right-wing posture, that of the crusader attacked for holding a virtuous position.
"They accuse us of homophobia," Diaz said. "They accuse us of being radicals... They accuse us of many things because they want to close the mouth of the church."
Diaz credited Radio Vision Cristiana, a New Jersey-based AM radio station that broadcasts religious programming, with turning out the crowd that was well into the thousands. Earlier speakers noted that 3,000 churches from the tri-state area were represented at the event.
"They sounded the trumpet and here we are," Diaz said. "The sleeping giant has awakened and nothing can make him go back to sleep."
As much as the rally was religious, it also featured explicit political content.
One early speaker asked Paterson, "Why haven't you paid attention to those constituents, Democrats, who voted for you? Today, you have slapped them in the face."
Later, a Jewish speaker called Sheldon Silver, the Assembly speaker and an Orthodox Jew, "an embarrassment as a Jew," and said of gay marriage supporters, "We will run primaries against each and every one of you. We will run you out of office."
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a national right-wing lobbying group, said to the crowd, "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."