photos by John DeSio
While Governor Paterson made it official that he would introduce a bill to make same-sex marriage legal in New York State, Albany’s most outspoken opponent of the bill is lashing out at the governor, calling his proposal a political gimmick and demanding that he not run for reelection.
“He’s desperate,” said Bronx State Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz at a Thursday meeting of the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization, which he heads. “I don’t blame him because he’s desperate. He’s trying to bring up his poll numbers.”
Rev. Diaz has long been an opponent of same-sex marriage, and even held up the Democrats new majority in the state senate last year over concerns that a bill like Paterson’s would be brought to the floor. In rather sharp terms, Rev. Diaz said at the meeting that not only was Paterson using the issue to prop up his faltering political life, but that he was actually hurting the gay community by indirectly feeding the State’s Republican beast and giving the GOP an issue with which to take back their State Senate majority.
The reverend’s solution? Paterson should announce that he will not run for reelection, which would allow Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to become the standard bearer for the Democratic Party.
Cuomo’s electoral strength, said Rev. Diaz, would protect the Democrat’s State Senate majority, if not increase it, and make same-sex marriage in New York an inevitability.
“Andrew Cuomo will bring more Democrats to the Senate. By bringing more Democrats to the Senate, I will not be needed,” said Rev. Diaz, who added that he has not spoken to Cuomo about this scenario. “The problem is over.”
Rev. Diaz also stated that the same-sex marriage bill would not pass the State Senate anyway, regardless of his opposition. Other Senators, including other Democrats, also oppose the Paterson bill, though they are not as vocal about it as he is. The senator also dismissed public opinion polls showing increasing support for same-sex marriage in the State, and declared that in May that Latino churchgoers would take their opposition to the streets and show Paterson just how unpopular his new bill was.
Rev. Diaz added that the governor’s timing made the bill especially disrespectful to Catholics, since they are celebrating the installation of Archbishop Timothy Dolan this week. Paterson has challenged the “Army of Christ,” said Rev. Diaz, and that army is prepared to fight.
“He’s challenged the Christian movement,” said Rev. Diaz. “He’s challenged the Christian believers. He’s challenged the people that believe in the Bible. We are accepting the challenge.”