Equality

Ruben Diaz’s Logic? Five of Six Latino State Senators Support Same-Sex Marriage.

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Last Sunday, Reverend Ruben Diaz made a big deal about the role of Latino state senators in deciding the future of same-sex marriage in New York. As he addressed a crowd overwhelmingly composed of religious Hispanics, Diaz repeatedly led the flock to believe that the issue would be made or broken by his five fellow Hispanic colleagues.

Well, under Diaz’s logic, it’s a done deal, then. All five say they support same-sex marriage.

Staffers of the five other members of the Puerto Rican/Latino Caucus — José Peralta, Gustavo Rivera, José Serrano, Martin Malavé Dilan, and Adriano Espaillat — tell the Voice that each firmly supports marriage equality.

Not that Diaz’s logic can be trusted, because despite what he was putting out, these senators were never really swing votes. All five have long been counted in the yes column, and one or more may co-sponsor same-sex marriage legislation when it comes up in the Senate. The real test in assuring passage is converting a handful of the three other Democratic or two-dozen Republican senators who voted no last time.

Still, the Latino Caucus support is important to point out during the political maneuvering. From California’s Prop. 8 in 2008 to New York’s prior legislative attempt for same-sex marriage in 2009, LGBT activist groups, often headed mostly by white people, have tended to blame religious communities of color for the failure of equal rights for gay people.

Last Sunday, Diaz did all he could to exploit that history of tension. He tried to whip the Hispanic crowd into a state of hysteria that gays were their enemies, out to destroy them. He also wanted to show the LGBT world that Hispanics would fight them with the passion of a religious crusade.

But the facts don’t back him up. Diaz is the only member of the Latino Caucus not supporting marriage equality and the newspaper he is boycotting — El Diario, the largest Spanish-language daily in the country — is for marriage equality. Nor do other members of his race or religion agree with him, according to the latest Siena poll, which indicates that 54 percent of Hispanics and 59 percent of Catholics now support gay marriage.

As far as the upcoming legislative war on the issue, neither side seems to be stirring its troops to action. The Latino Caucus senators’ staffers tell the Voice that they have seen only a slight uptick in constituent calls about the issue in the past couple of weeks. Efforts on the part of Diaz and gay-marriage activists to convince voters to lobby their legislators seem to be falling flat. Also, much like Duncan Osborne reported in Gay City News, we’re hearing that Governor Cuomo doesn’t sound like he’s getting on the horn with any senators yet, either.

sthrasher@villagevoice.com / @steven_thrasher

Previously:

Ruben Diaz Has a Rather Queer Anti-Gay March in the Rain

Ruben Diaz Sr.: Gay Marriage Over My Dead Body

Who Do We Have to Blow To Get Gay Marriage?

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