Just two days after claiming the gay community controls city council, Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr., rejected calls for his resignation, saying the only ones who can ask him to resign are the ones who put him in office in the first place — the people in the city’s 18th Council District.
And he’s right. Banking on the name of his son — then an Assemblyman in what would become Marcos Crespo’s district — Diaz worked his way into the state senate, where he led the so-called “Gang of Three,” what was really a forerunner to former state Sen. Jeff Klein’s Independent Democratic Conference.
Diaz runs as a Democrat and is elected a Democrat despite sharing few of the values that define the party. Yet, he’s never made any of these values secret. He is anti-abortion, against stem cell research. And he’s made it quite clear his opposition to anything involving the LGBT community.
In fact in 1994, before he was elected to anything, Diaz slammed New York hosting the Gay Games, claiming — according to The New York Times — that it would lead to more cases of AIDS, and that children might believe it’s OK to be gay, because they might see gay people also compete athletically (as if that’s never happened before).
Now he’s a city councilman, and if anyone is shocked that he says these abhorrent things, then they really haven’t been paying attention.
Diaz has every right to hold the views he has, and if his constituents are fine with the hatred that seeps from those comments, then there isn’t much we can do.
But voters in and around Parkchester and Soundview deserve better than this. Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez defended Diaz during a public advocate debate at Lehman College last week — not what he said about the gay community, but the work he does for his constituents.
But that’s not enough. While we hope each and every one of our elected leaders are productive in the offices they hold, we also hope they at least respect basic human values.
Yes, there are religions that condemn homosexuality. And no government should ever tell a religious institution what to believe because there is no place for government in religion. At the same time, there is no place for religion in government.
Any candidate who doesn’t agree should join political parties matching their beliefs. Not choose a party simply because it’s the only one that will get them elected.
We don’t have room for the likes of Ruben Diaz Sr., in our government or in our society. And voters must remember that it’s not just good work they should consider, but a candidate’s humanity as well.