Source: Associated Press
By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ
HAVANA (AP) — A Cuban government push to legalize gay marriage has set off an unprecedented reaction from the island’s rapidly growing evangelical churches, whose members are expected to widely reject a state-proposed constitutional reform in a nationwide referendum this month.
The reform is almost certain to pass by a broad margin of Cuba’s 7 million voters – language opening the door to gay marriage is only one element of the reform – but the evangelical vote could shave hundreds of thousands of votes from its victory.
With many pastors promoting “no” votes from the pulpit, the swelling evangelical rejection of the constitution is a novel development for a state that prides itself on projecting an image of ideological unanimity. Cuban government-endorsed candidates and proposals typically receive ‘yes’ votes well above 90 percent in one of last communist nations on earth, now in the 60th year of its socialist revolution.
“I can’t vote for something that goes against my principles. It’s sad but it’s a reality,” said pastor Alida Leon, president of the Evangelical League of Cuba. Hers is one of a dozen evangelical denominations that are actively speaking out against the reform. There are an estimated 100 evangelical denominations active in Cuba, 52 legally registered, and many are taking softer lines against the new constitution, or staying officially neutral. The same is true for many Catholic and non-evangelical protestant clergy.