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National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown spoke at the rally against marriage equality held by New York state senator Ruben Diaz Sr. in the Bronx on Sunday, where he described his efforts as part of a "new civil rights movement."
"Some have a false understanding of the separation of church and state," said Brown as his words were interpreted into Spanish. "They believe that those of us motivated by our faith do not have a place in the public square."
During his speech, posted by Joe.My.God., Brown also repeated the false claims, included in a new NOM TV ad and mailer in New York, that marriage equality legislation would cause schoolchildren to be taught about same-sex marriages in class.
The New York Daily News reports that Erica Diaz, the lesbian granddaughter of the senator ousted from the military under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, attended a smaller counter-protest across the street with her girlfriend, Naomi Torres. She said about her grandfather, who is also a Pentecostal minister, "He's not homophobic. He's just against us getting married."
According to the Village Voice, only 1,000 people attended the Diaz Sr. rally, compared to some 20,000 people who attended a similar event he organized two years ago. This year's rally was planned to coincide with AIDS Walk New York, which attracted more than 40,000 people in Manhattan.