Organizers Hope Madrid Demonstration Is Just the Start

1.5 Million Take Part in Pro-family Event

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MADRID, Spain, JUNE 20, 2005 ( A massive demonstration in defense of marriage and the family might mark the start of an unprecedented social movement, say the associations that called the protest.

An estimated 1.5 million citizens took to the streets of the Spanish capital on Saturday to take a stand against the Socialist government’s efforts to legalize same-sex marriage.

The Spanish Forum for the Family, a non-confessional group representing more than 4 million families, launched the citizens’ action in favor of childhood, marriage and freedom, and against the government project that would include adoption of children by homosexual couples.

«The Family Does Matter» was the motto of the demonstration that attracted families from all over Spain as well as foreign representations that arrived in Madrid for the event.

On hand were representatives from 15 international federations and more than 1,000 non-governmental organizations.

Sharon Slater, president of U.S.-based United Families International and a representative of the World Family Alliance, described the day as historic and said that it marked «the beginning of a world movement to protect marriage and the family.»

The movement «transcends races, religions and borders,» she said.

Raising the flag

Jean-Louis Thès, president of the France-based Institut de Politique Familiale, called it «a historic day for the family movement of the whole of Europe,» and thanked the Spanish people for «having been the first to raise the family flag in such an impressive way.»

Thès participated in the name of 400 French associations.

María del Prete expressed solidarity with Spain’s families, marriages and children in the name of 400 groups in Latin America that participate in the Family Network.

«During the last months Europe and the whole world have looked with disbelief at Spain,» said Josep Miró i Ardèvol, a member of the Pact for Rights and Liberties and president of the Convention of Christian for Europe, when addressing the participants.

«In Europe, in the world, marriage is the union of a man and a woman,» he said, citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

«Of the 191 countries that are part of the United Nations, 189 prohibit homosexual marriage,» he added.

«You are the obvious proof that today the hour of the family has arrived,» added José Gabaldón, president of the Spanish Forum for the Family, when addressing the mass meeting and expressing gratitude for the support received from all over the world.

Specifically, Gabaldón mentioned groups from Pakistan, South Korea, Mongolia, Russia, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Guinea, the Colombo Islands, Bangladesh, Egypt and Rwanda.

The demonstration had the support of civic, political and religious entities, as well as of Seg Munir, imam of the Grand Mosque of Madrid; the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain; and other religious confessions.

The Spanish bishops’ conference expressed its support for the initiative, and about 20 bishops, including Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela of Madrid and his auxiliaries, attended the manifestation with their faithful.

East’s concern

Marek Raczkiewicz, correspondent of the Polish section of Vatican Radio, mentioned the «great interest and concern» with which all the countries of the East are following the Spanish situation, «especially in regard to the family and marriage.»

He also stressed the importance of hearing the voice of the laity.

It is not only an issue «of the clergy or the hierarchy, but above all of the ever greater awareness of the laity,» Raczkiewicz stressed.

Journalist Cristina López Schlichting was responsible for reading the event’s «manifesto,» which called for the withdrawal of the draft law on same-sex «marriage» and claimed the right of children to a mother and a father.

The manifesto also called for a policy of protection of the family and the right of parents to choose the education of their children.

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