Proudly homophobic reverend going head-to-head with proudly gay Black councilman in crucial Congress battle
Campaigners have vowed to stop New York Democrat Ruben Diaz who says he is “proud to be homophobic” from getting elected to Congress.
Reverend Diaz Sr, an avowed opponent of equal rights who sits on New York City Council as a Democrat, is in the running for an open spot in Congress representing New York’s 15th congressional district.
Diaz previously waged a legal battle against equal marriage despite his own granddaughter being a lesbian, has claimed that New York City is “controlled by the homosexual community”, and launched smears against gay city council speaker Corey Johnson.
LGBT+ campaigners back gay challenger to ‘proud homophobe’ Democrat.
Diaz will face strong opposition in the race, with LGBT+ campaigners among those backing a gay challenger to him in the June 23 Democratic primary.
Human Rights Campaign has thrown its weight behind gay, Black New York councilman Ritchie Torres – who would be the only out Black LGBT+ person in Congress if elected.
HRC president Alphonso David described Diaz as a “known homophobe” with a “history of anti-LGBT+ rhetoric and votes”.
David said: “Not only do we have the opportunity to make history in New York, but we also can keep reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr. out of Congress.
“Diaz is one of the most virulently anti-equality and anti-choice Democrats that New York has seen in a generation, lacking respect for even the basic humanity of LGBTQ people.
“Not only has he used his platform as an elected official to vote against us, he’s used his bully pulpit to dehumanise us. The Human Rights Campaign is proud to endorse council member Ritchie Torres and will do whatever it takes to elect him and defeat reverend Diaz.”
In a statement, Torres added: “This primary election presents a stark choice between an LGBT+, progressive-trailblazer and a homophobic minister who would be Donald Trump’s staunchest ally in Congress.
“The last thing the South Bronx needs is a member of Congress who would support Republican priorities to discriminate against LGBT+ people and destroy the social safety net that millions of residents depend on.
“I will support federal non-discrimination laws and ensure that the most vulnerable Americans have a voice in Congress. I’m proud to receive the endorsement of HRC and look forward to a strong partnership that will push for greater protections for LGBT+ Americans.”
Torres also enjoys the support of Victory Fund, which works to support groundbreaking LGBT+ candidates.
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Ruben Diaz Sr insists he doesn’t ‘hate’ gay people – he just doesn’t think they deserve rights.
Speaking to the New York Post, Diaz insisted that he doesn’t “hate gay people”.
He told the tabloid: “People know who I am. Yes. I oppose gay marriage because of my religion. I oppose abortion because of my religion. I oppose gambling because of my religion.”
But he has previously declared: “If opposing certain behaviours, if preaching the truth of Gospel, makes me homophobic, then I am proud to be homophobic.”
Diaz also previously admitted he is “not a Democrat” on “moral issues” – and has said he is undecided on whether he will vote for Joe Biden or Donald Trump in 2020.
Unsurprisingly, the candidate has a controversial past in politics – largely due to his extreme views on LGBT+ issues. He was once forced to resign from a post after suggesting that the Gay Games sporting event would result in the spread of AIDS by encouraging homosexuality.
He also filed legal action in a bid to block the Harvey Milk High School, which caters for ostracised LGBT+
youth, claiming that it discriminates against straight kids.