Diaz Family Values

While Rubén Díaz Sr. lobs bombs against gay rights, son Rubén Jr. and lesbian granddaughter Erica run for cover

She said she was just there to bear witness and stand up. But some of it was too much. At one point, Reverend Ariel Torres Ortega of Radio Visión Cristiana addressed the crowd and, according to Think Progress's Igor Volsky, said of gays in Spanish that "those who practice such things are worthy of death."

Erica summoned an NYPD community affairs officer, braved the hordes of anti-gay bigots, and approached her grandfather.

From the other side, it looked like a capitulation. She stood awkwardly next to Senior, who told the crowd, basically, "Love the sinner, hate the sin." And he said he loved her. She looked like the misguided prodigal child come home to the flock.

C.S. Muncy
Ruben Díaz Sr. marching arm-in-arm with National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown (right) in the Bronx.
C.S. Muncy
Ruben Díaz Sr. marching arm-in-arm with National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown (right) in the Bronx.

It was a very uncomfortable moment to witness, and it only lasted for a minute.

But to Erica, she wasn't giving in. "I just wanted him to know I still loved him," she said, and hoped he'd say something to denounce the awful things being said.

He did not. She later wrote in an op-ed in the New York Post how disappointed she was by his silence when similar remarks were made on the radio. But Senior tells the Voice that he has not read her piece, and denies that anyone advocated violence against gay people at his rally.

"That day, in front of all of the people, whoever wants to listen to that speech, that speech is recorded," Díaz tells the Voice. "I addressed both groups: the protesters in the park and my people. And I told that group in the park that I love them. And I told anyone to check my record, my voting record. I told them that you cannot hate anyone. If you hate anybody, you would not go to heaven. I said, so if any one of us hates anyone, you will go to hell! That is what my religion teaches, so I said that publicly. So what more do people want?"

After appearing with her grandfather at the rally, Erica walked back across the street, where she waved a flag quietly.

Her grandfather may have the political reins now, but she is the future. As she and her generation grow into their power as a voting bloc, and as they start electing each other, there is no doubt what will happen with same-sex marriage. It's not just significant that polls show that 70 percent of her age group approves of gay marriage—it's that the number is up 16 points in just the past year.

Erica, her partner, and their kids will probably all live to see same-sex marriage legal not just in New York, but throughout the United States.

Soon, Erica and Torres could wed in New York. Any month now, Erica will be able to re-enlist in the military if she wants.

With the Ericas of the world coming online, it's just a matter of time.

sthrasher@villagevoice.com

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