Gary Axelbank, who used to host a news show on the Bronxnet public-access channel, has posted an OpEd video on West Bronx News challenging NYS Senator Ruben Diaz on issues related to homophobia, a woman's right to choose, and separation of church and state (The Senator is also an ordained Minister).
If you have read Blabbeando over the years, you know I have been a leading critic of Senator Diaz, so believe me when I say that when a well-known straight Bronx journalist takes him on, it's just great!
Axelbank is specifically taking on a number of ads that the Reverend bought on several Bronx newspapers when his sweetheart deal with State Majority Leader Malcom Smith as part of the so-called "Gang of Three" seemed to fall apart in December.
In the OpEd, Axelbank asks for viewers to post replies. Unfortunately Michael Benjamin, a Bronx Assemblyman, has already come to Diaz' defense.
Please tell Diaz that his homophobic world-view is 100% wrong. Support Axelbank by leaving a supportive comment on his post.
Here is what my good friend (and lomg-time Bronx LGBT rights advocate) Charles Rice-Gonzalez wrote:
Gary, I applaud your commentary. Reverend Diaz has been consistent for decades with his anti-gay stance and religious based agenda. From the first time he came to mainstream media’s attention in 1994 proclaiming that the Gay Games in New York that year would spread AIDS in the city, to his resignation from the Civilian Complaint Review Board because of the constant protest from the LGBT community, to his attacks on the Harvey Milk School and his bussing in evangelical Christians from the tri-state area to stage a protest against gay marriage on the steps of the Bronx County Courthouse, he has crusaded against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. And his stance on reproductive rights has been clear. And since becoming elected to public office he has not abided by the constitution’s “separation of church and state,” but has joined church and state in a union that benefits his religious and personal views.
Assemblyman Michael Benjamin says, that he does represent the views of his constituents. I’m sure Reverend Ruben Diaz agrees. But they are not talking about the whole picture, because I am a constituent and he doesn’t represent my views. Nor does he represent the views of the thousands of LGBT people who live and work in the Bronx. He doesn’t represent the views of the thousands of youth and seniors and people of all ages who frequent the Bronx Community Pride Center, or the views of the straight and gay Bronxites who work on the staffs of elected officials, hospitals, clinics, community-based organizations, businesses and arts organizations in the borough.
It’s embarrassing for the Bronx to have one of the most vocal homophobes in the country. And to have Michael Benjamin supporting him is astonishing. I knew Michael Benjamin as a supporter of the arts and diversity. He was on the board of the Point Community Development Corporation and even had a ceremony at BAAD! during his early days. BAAD! is a space that celebrates and embraces diversity which is the norm in society. The Bronx is made up of men, women, transgender people, people of all colors, ages and sexual orientations. Diversity isn’t a slogan or a politically correct word, but a reality of the world. Difference exists and it’s embarrassing to the Bronx to have elected officials working feverishly, spending public dollars and reciting hate-filled rhetoric to oppress any segment of their constituency. Even if there was just one gay person in the reverend’s district, he should be ashamed to put out anti-gay or anti-woman propaganda.
But he is shameless.
Ironically, the “separation of church and state” in the constitution was meant to protect religious freedom. So that people can practice whatever religion they want without interference from the state. It seems that Reverend Ruben Diaz has been pretty free, and uses that freedom to oppress others.
But he will lose the fight against gay marriage. He may win a battle here and there, but he will eventually lose. I say this, because I look at the changes taking place in states all across the country. And these changes will lead to more changes. The reverend knows this which is why he is fighting so hard. He knows things are changing. So, the louder he shouts, the more energized I feel and the prouder I feel as a gay Latino man in the Bronx. I have seen the change in this borough that has come about because people like me care about ourselves and love our communities and our people more than Reverend Ruben Diaz can hate.