Many Evangelists Protest Abolition of Sodomy Law
Associated Press, July 13,
By Frank Griffiths, Associated Press Writer
SAN JUAN—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 last month struck down
a Texas law that made homosexual sex 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.
Of the 13 mainland states with sodomy laws, four—Texas,
Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri—prohibit oral and anal sex between same-sex
couples. The other nine ban sodomy for everyone: Alabama, Florida, Idaho,
Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.
“We don’t want sodomy for our people,” said Rev.
Stephen Rios, 46, 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
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