By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
The New York Senate is debating whether gay and lesbian couples can have the legal right to marry. One of the loudest voices in that argument is a twice-married minister legislator set on "protecting traditional marriage."
Bronx Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz Sr. is more than the last Democratic holdout against gay marriage in New York's Senate. In the three generations of his family, the past, present, and future of New York's journey to marriage equality is illustrated more starkly than in any other.
The House of Díaz features the stereotypical bigoted Big Papi grandfather, a swings-both-ways son, and the increasingly outspoken Lesbian Latina granddaughter.
The patriarch, Rubén Díaz Sr., attracts a huge amount of attention for a single-issue politician. In the past month alone, he has inspired a "Fuck Rubén Díaz" party in Williamsburg's Metropolitan Bar, an online Rubén Díaz fan fiction contest, and "Rubén's Drag Race," an opportunity at the AIDS Walk for people to dress a lifesize cutout of the senator in women's clothes. In an era when most people can't identify their state representatives, Papi could be the most famous senator in the state not convicted of assaulting his girlfriend. (That former senator, Hiram Monserrate, is a close friend of Senior's, who plans to officiate when Monserrate marries the girlfriend he tossed around.)
Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr., every bit as smooth as his father is coarse, appears hopelessly stuck in the middle of a debate he wants little to do with. When it comes to gay marriage, like many Democratic politicians of his generation (including the one in the White House), Junior says what most gays want to hear. But like his father, he voted against gay marriage in the New York legislature.
And then there's Erica Díaz, the 22-year-old niece of Junior and granddaughter of Senior. A lesbian kicked out of the military under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," she, her partner, and their two kids represent a direction that a majority of just about every segment of the population (New York Hispanic legislators, Catholic and Jewish New York voters—indeed, Americans in general) are headed on this issue. When she was recently just one of a few protesting hundreds of her grandfather's anti-gay hordes (on the steps of her uncle's office, no less) she did look a little outnumbered. But 70 percent of voting-age Americans under 34 are for gay marriage; she is, unquestionably the future.
As the state finally lurches to marriage equality, the House of Díaz stands for where it's been and where it's going.
Rubén Díaz Sr. was born in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, in 1943. He came to the mainland United States after serving in the military, where, as his gay best friend Christopher Lynn (a former Taxi Commissioner under Rudy Giuliani) puts it, Díaz "suffered terribly under anti-black discrimination in the Army." Díaz received an honorable discharge, arrived in New York in 1965, and studied at Lehman College.
Today, he signs his name "Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz" on official correspondence.
"Why doesn't he understand that he should exercise some separation between church and state in his role as a senator and as a reverend?" Marriage Equality New York Board President Cathy Marino-Thomas asks. (The Voice wanted to ask him this as well, but he hung up during his interview before it came up.)
Díaz has never seemed concerned with any apparent conflict in mashing up his interpretation of the Bible and his oath to the New York State Constitution. His official biography for the New York State Senate identifies him as "Reverend" nine times and as Senator only six times.
When Juan Manuel Benitez interviewed Díaz on NY1 Notivias in July of 2009, blogger Andrés "Blabbeando" Duque translated their interaction. When Benitez said, "So, following your argument, there is no separation between church and state in the United States," Papi reportedly replied, "There cannot be! Because I am the State and I am the Church."
In 1978, Díaz was ordained by the evangelical Church of God based in Cleveland, Tennessee, which claims to be the oldest continuous Pentecostal denomination in the world. The denomination is known for having a brief fling with snake handling, when one minister, George Went Hensley, tried to convince the faithful that those with the spirit could control venomous serpents. (Hensley and his followers would eventually break off to form the Church of God With Signs Following, and he himself would die from a snake bite after being bitten during a church service in 1955.)
There is little naturally charming about Díaz. He speaks in gruff, heavily accented English, and his nouns and verbs often do not agree. He is not especially handsome, and wears cowboy hats so garish even LBJ would be put to shame wearing one of them. He speaks about himself in the third person with neither charisma or irony.
Yet Díaz would make a name for himself as an evangelical preacher in the poorest sections of the Bronx, selling hope to the masses during that borough's roughest years. And if there is one person responsible for bringing this Democrat into the political fold, it was Rudy Giuliani, who appointed Díaz to the Civilian Complaint Review Board in 1993.
To Senator Ruben Diaz:
I am not alone in wanting to know whether you will ever have the basic human decency to acknowledge to the public the article your granddaughter Erica published in the New York Post, explaining how personally hurtful she finds your hateful ignorance in regard to LGBT human beings.
For reference, Erica's article is here:http://www.nypost.com/p/news/l...
At this next link is a Village Voice interview of you, in which you deny all knowledge of Erica's article in the Post:http://blogs.villagevoice.com/...
It simply is not believable that you had no knowledge of the article. Even were one to grant you the benefit of the doubt, (which in this case you absolutely do not deserve), a decent human being serving as a State Senator instead of denying all knowledge of his granddaughter's article would state an intent to find and to read it. You might even have told the Village Voice that you would read it that very day and get back to them with a statement for them to include in the interview.
I have concerns that what you are doing to your granddaughter Erica constitutes domestic violence. Domestic violence is an aggragate of behaviors that do not specifically have to include assault. One very characteristic behavior is for the abuser to send messages to the victim that their thoughts and feelings do not matter to the abuser or indeed to anybody. That is the message you have sent out, to Erica and to the public, with your denial of all knowledge of her New York Post article. I am adding that your public offer to marry your friend and political associate, the convicted domestic violence offender Hiram Monserrate to his victim sent all the wrong messages to abusers and victims both. When you as an elected official empower an abuser that way, you are, basically, telling victims there will be no help for them to escape their abusers. Surely it is no mere coincidence that under your shabby, irresponible leadership, the Bronx has one of the very highest rates of domestic violence in the country.
Doubling rational and enlightened persons' objections to your attempted public humiliation of your lesbian granddaughter, you maliciously portray all opposition to your hateful bigotry as hot-headed and obscene. You falsified something written on Archbishop Dolan's blog as part of your campaign of demonizing gay human beings; a report on that incident is here:http://thenewcivilrightsmoveme...
Then at this next link, you published on your New York Senate web page a release "Unashamed To Be a Christian" in which you again demonize gay human beings and not coincidentally, disrespect your granddaughter Erica by portraying all opposition to your anti-LGBT bigotry as consisting of people who use curse words at you. Additionally, you do not have an exclusive claim to what it means to be Christian. Many Christians today . . whole Churches . . .. accept LGBTers and support their legal equality. When you misappropriate the word "Christian" with your implicit claim that Christians who favor LGBT equality are somehow less truly Christian than you, you look like a propagandistic hack. http://www.nysenate.gov/press-...
Every decent New Yorker now wants to know from you; when will you in public acknowledge your granddaughter Erica's article published in the New York Post, the one she ended by saying of your anti-gay hate speech "I want him to know that every word he utters hurts his own blood."
You evidently weren't satisfied with hurting Erica with your anti-gay bigotry; you had also to hurt her by denying in public that you have any knowledge of the article she pubished.
Frankly, shame on you.
Let me solve this non mystery. According to my ex boss who is a personal friend of the Diaz family, senior Diaz married his ex-secretary who he had an affair with. That is why both wives were on the payroll at the same time. The Bronx is full of corrupt and inept politicians, I only hope that Diaz Jr. is joking about a mayoral bid.
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When is the Gay community going to understand what the Bible says about a man and a woman? smh ..you cant be that ignorant. The bible says God saw that Adam needed a companion so he made a woman called Eve, not Steve...
Good expos├ę of a sordid opportunist. If the Voice wants to do some serious investigating, it should look into the other hispanic 'reverends' who are running religious scam organizations in the Bronx and siphoning taxpayer money to subsidize hate speech against gays and others while they hide armies of illegitimate kids and family scandals. You'll be amazed what you find.
Gays are just disgusting to look at. Yeah, yeah, they're all people, too, and should have their civil rights -- but legalese aside, I have to say that I find gays physically revolting. It's like seeing insects to me, something just totally weird. Does that mean I think all insects should be removed from the planet? No. And I don't go around squishing every one I see, either! I'm just trying to say that LBGT people are disgusting to many people.
If there's a genetic component to homosexuality, bisexuality, and transexuality (or whatever *that's* called), why shouldn't there be a genetic component to finding such people disgusting? I mean, you know, how folks are predisposed not to like vegetables or insects....
This expose of Diaz is excellent. Diaz's full quote, oft repeated, is "I am Church and I am state and I will not be separated." Diaz's aggressive deceptiveness is plain to see, when Spitzer's investigation found that he had fraudulently spent Soundview money on his Senate office furniture and only paid the money back to Sounview after the fraud was discovered. Diaz then has the nerve to yell at you that "nothing" was wrong. It isn't that he acknowledges his economic fraud, and is committed never to repeat such fraud; it's that he wants to create the impression that you have no business questioning his integrity. Diaz serially misappropriates his official Senate website and letterhead to send Evangelical messages to Evangelicals. That is a violation of 74(h) of the ethics code. A complaint should be submitted and a full investigation conducted. Diaz in offering to marry his friend the convicted abuser Monserrate to Monserrate's victim is sending wrong messages to abusers and victims both, and this explains in part why Diaz's district has one of the highest domestic violence rates in the state. Furthermore, we should consider that with his abuses of power, Diaz is subjecting his family members to domestic violence. He certainly is exercising his political power to control and repress some of his family members in ways consistent with scientific descriptions of domestic violence. This article presumes that Diaz, Jr. is a totally free agent; it might instead have considered how Jr. is Sr.'s domestic violence victim. Sr.'s presence at an AID victim's funeral is repulsive. He was there praying for the "salvation" of the dead gay person's soul, not paying respects to the gay person for who the gay person was. One further matter for investigation would be Diaz's possibly corrupt relationship with fringe religious Jewish extremists in his district. My investigations show that he has steered money to that fringe, and there is an appearance that there could be a quid pro quo involved, with Diaz saying I'll get you this money if you show up at my anti-gay hate events. Like Diaz, these fringe extremists are misognyist. One of them spit on lesbian rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum - yet Diaz did nothing to denounce the misogynist spitter. And, this is the same Ruben Diaz who lied about the contents of an anti-gay blog published by Archbishop Dolan, in order to demonize gay human beings with even greater intensity. Neither Diaz nor Dolan would address the problem of Diaz's lie about Dolan's blog. The lie was published the same day Diaz was recording an anti-gay hate radio segment for Dolan's A Conversation with the Archbishop. An appearance was created that Dolan and Diaz are in collusion to promulgate anti-gay hate speech; neither man seems to have an interest in eliminating that appearance. Finally for now, mentioning Diaz's mediocre linguistic abilities certainly is relevant to his quality as a leader. Grammatical use of language is indicative of an ability rationally to reason, and to think in an orderly manner. Poor language skills are a reflection of poor thinking habits. What is more, Ruben Diaz, Sr. does not even speak his mother tongue as would a well-educated person from Puerto Rico.
Reverend Diaz is nether my representative nor I agree with his views, but to discuss his language skills and physical qualities is as low as the positions taken by the reverend. If you want to end discrimination, you need to get your own values in order.
You Apparently Forgot That Diaz Senior Who Was Known Around Town As Satana Or Satan, Was Convicted Of Possessing 12 bags of heroin and 3 bags of marijuana and one scale, he plead guilty to misdeameanors and got probation....unfortunately recovering heroin addicts that turn to jesus become fanatics to keep away the chills and the ghosts but prefer to while away with the holy ghost in the hopes that all the crap that he did in the past, that still haunts him will be erased....two wrongs do not make a right....do not force religion down our throats when what we need is equality......
interesting viewpoint honeybadger... i was under the impression that all people deserved to be treated as humans. I don't understand all this hate.... god wanted us to love one another. it's sad to see how mankind has twisted that. I wonder honeybadger if god would look upon you, with all your hate and contempt, would he smile at you? would he be proud of how much hate you have in your heart?
The VillageVioce reporters, like most others in the media, are all just helping to push a sick agenda by demonizing anyone who speaks their opinion that doesn't match the popular opinion. Homosexuality is a disorder and a form of mental retardation. And the gay community is proving that to be the case every time one of them speaks.
Thanks, Cas, for your intelligent and cogent arguments. Now try pulling your head out of your beer bong for five seconds.
"Gays are just disgusting to look at." Really? I was unaware that all gay people shared visual characteristics that both ease their identification by bigots like you and cause disgust. Do enlighten me as to what visual characteristics I have that cause you nausea, please.
edit: You know, for someone who is disgusted by gays, you sure do comment an awful lot on the Village Voice. Are you aware this publication is well known for its coverage of LGBT issues? Did you know it carries gay sex advice icon Dan Savage's column? Do you have any clue how many gay people live in the Village?
The article was weak and lame. It didn't even mention the fact that this guy is a thug who was done for drug dealing so in a sense the fact that he is being 'trusted' to run an area is shocking but then very few liberal news sites these days do ANY kind of decent reportage articles.
Such a lack of spine. No wonder people went crazy for the Bachmann Daily Beast article that simply rehashed old information.
A decent article on the sliminess of NOM would not only help NY but the gay community because they are the reason you have lost in most states or will lose in most states.
More than one element of "honeybadger"'s comment constitutes hate speech. For one example now, the notion that gay people only are concerned about equality for gay people, constitutes anti-gay hate speech. That hate speech aims to create an us (heterosexuals) against them (homosexuals) scenario in which the heteros are good and the homosexuals are bad. In reality, of course, many heterosexuals favor full acceptance and equality. Some do so, just out of a sense of basic fairness. Others have grandchildren, or uncles, or twins, or other family members, friends and/or colleagues who are gay. They are heterosexuals who want homosexuals treated with respect and decency, instead of hatefully out of ignorance over homosexuality. Whole countries have already granted full equality to those of their citizens who happen to be gay. Anne Rice and Barbra Streisand would be two examples of heterosexuals who want equality for gay human beings. Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg, too, are heterosexuals who want equality for gay people. I would like to see "honeybadger" tell Barbra Streisand to her face that she is showing "mental retardation" by speaking up for equality.
Can we reinstate slavery since that's allowed in the bible, too? Homosexuality is scientifically proven to be genetic and exists throughout different species. Why don't you worry more about the single mothers and abusive families that you read in the paper everyday. Me getting married isn't going to affect someone beating their child to death over a broken television.
Like they say about blacks in the bible? Like they thought about women working in the 50's?
Youre a real ray of BS.
Honeybadger - You who are defining homosexuality as a form of "mental retardation;" I demand that you take an IQ test side by side with me and that our results then be published in the pages of the Village Voice.