Puerto Rico to Debate New Gay Rights, Gender Bills
Religious groups gathered Wednesday in front of Puerto Rico’s seaside capitol to protest proposed laws that would allow same-sex couples to adopt children and would establish a public school curriculum examining gender issues including sexual discrimination.
One of the island’s largest Christian organizations, Puerto Rico Pro Family, said it would seek two constitutional amendments to limit marriage to heterosexual couples and to award parents the sole right to educate their children on gender matters.
"There are certain issues that are non-negotiable," said Dr. Cesar Vazquez Muniz, spokesman of Puerto Rico Pro Family. "The problem is that they are trying to change the values of this country."
Legislators currently are holding public hearings on the bills and are expected to debate them soon as the U.S. territory pushes for expanded gay rights amid heavy opposition from religious groups.
Sen. Maria Gonzalez Lopez, who filed both bills earlier this year, told The Associated Press that children should not be discriminated against and that prohibiting same-sex couples from adopting has economic, emotional and psychological consequences.
"It’s imperative that this legislative assembly recognize and not deny existing families their rights," the bill states. "People’s lifestyles are moving further away each time from the concept of a traditional family nucleus."
The bill was filed after the island’s Supreme Court in February voted 5-4 to uphold a local law banning adoptions by same-sex parents. The decision was unsuccessfully appealed by a Puerto Rican woman who has sought for nearly a decade to adopt a 12-year-old girl whom her partner of more than 20 years gave birth to through in vitro fertilization.