Two Saturday parades highlight differences over gay marriage in Cuenca
Two Saturday parades, one in the morning opposing same-sex marriage and the second, part of the international LGBTI Pride weekend, illustrated sharp public differences on the issue of equal rights for gay Ecuadorians.
Marchers in the “Ecuador for the family” procession marched up Calle Simon Bolivar and across to Calle Sucre, chanting to drum beats and carrying signs proclaiming “Hands off the family,” “Respect your father and mother,” and “One man, one woman.” One chant, “The court out of the family,” reacted directly to the June 12 Constitutional Court ruling that granted legal status to marriages between same sex couples.
“This is the reason that we have formed this parade, to protest that ruling,” said Raul Estefan who heads the Catholic group “Families are Sacred.” “Marriage was ordained by God to be between a man and a woman and any attempt to change it is a sacrilege. We will keep marching until the court is overruled.”
Estefan said he was “overjoyed” by the turnout for the parade. “There are so many here it gives me great encouragement,” he said. “We are happy to have representatives from other religions supporting our cause. In the parade today, there were Latter Day Saints, Muslims, Seventh Day Adventists and Christianos.”
The parade terminated at Plaza de San Francisco where marchers applauded speeches, some advocating a return to Catholic church involvement in the country’s legal system. A half dozen petition-takers circulated among the crowd soliciting signatures for a public referendum to overturn the equal marriage court ruling.
Later Saturday, the LGBTI Pride parade drew a similar-sized crowd, estimated by the Cuenca Citizen Guard to number 1,000 to 1,200, that featured rainbow flags and umbrellas, and drum circles. Marchers chanted and carried signs proclaiming, “The same rights for everyone,” “Love wins in the end,” and “The fight continues.”
In addition to hand-holding couples, the parade included many heterosexuals supporting equal rights for the LGBTI. “We are very pleased to have the support of so many straight people,” said gay activist Hilton Jaramillo, who believed that a third of the marchers were straight.
“We are are also happy that so many foreigners turned out to participate and cheer us from the sidewalks. I believe there were at least 200 North Americans and Europeans marching with us, many of them students and travelers.”
Jaramillo says he is not concerned about the Catholic drive to put the definition of marriage to a public vote. “The court must approve a referendum and the constitution is clear that the majority cannot take rights away from minorities.”
National police said that both marches were peaceful with no violent incidents reported.