Puerto Rican Evangelists Rally in Support of Sodomy Law
July 15 2003 12:00 AM ET
Tens of thousands of Protestant evangelists skipped church services Sunday to crusade against Puerto Rico's elimination of a sodomy law. Top legislators want a Puerto Rican law banning gay sex, or "unnatural sex" between heterosexuals, taken off the books to comply with a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, but church leaders want the law to remain. "The senate offended the church, and that's why we're here," said Angel Marcial, president of the Pentecostal Brotherhood, one of the main organizers of the event. "We're also here to affirm the morals of the family." The Supreme Court's 6-3 decision in June struck down a Texas law that made sodomy a crime. Before the ruling, Puerto Rico's senate approved a revision that would decriminalize sodomy. It has yet to go to the house. Puerto Rico's Article 103, which dates back to 1902, carries a maximum 12-year prison sentence for "any person who has sexual relations with a person of the same sex or commits a crime against nature." Although no one has ever been prosecuted under the law, many interpret unnatural acts to include oral or anal sex, which don't lead to procreation. "We don't want sodomy for our people," said the Reverend Stephen Rios of Catano, on a slippery stage near the capitol's front steps. "We want Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve." Many signs in the crowd criticized the Supreme Court's ruling, including one that said "The Supreme Court of the heavens says no to sin." Other signs said, "Say no to immorality and to sodomy." The president of the New Progressive Party, Carlos Pesquera, said if elected governor in 2004 elections, he would see that the sodomy provision remains on the books. The party supports making Puerto Rico the 51st U.S. state. "I'm showing my support for this movement," said Pesquera, holding his wife's hand. As long as the sodomy provision does not conflict with the Supreme Court ruling, Pesquera said he wants to keep it in place.