Sunday, June 28, 2009
Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr.: Blame Michael Bloomberg for the lack of marriage equality in New York
OK, let me be a Debbie Downer today, on Pride Day, but I just have to post this fine example of the utter hypocrisy of homophobic Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., in the form of a 30-minute Spanish-language television interview that ran back on June 5th on New York 1 Noticias (posted in full, and translated by yours truly, above).
It's quite a far-ranging interview as Diaz is asked about his opposition to gays and gay rights over the last few decades. Pura Politica anchor, Juan Manuel Benitez, doesn't shy away from challenging Diaz on his views simply because he calls himself a preacher and, as Benitez keeps pressing, you see Diaz begin to lose it. At one point, as his own arguments are used to refute his positions, Diaz stops answering, and simply keeps repeating "I am a Pastor. I am a preacher. I am a believer in Jesus Christ, our redeemer and savior". Ask yourself the next time you see an anti-gay preacher spouting his or her views on CNN, if the network anchors even dare to respectfully challenge their bigotry in quite the same way that Benitez does in these clips.
Part of the interview, in which Diaz acknowleges having two gay brothers, made news last week after New York magazine's Daily Intel posted the info without attribution on June 23rd. That quickly got picked up by bloggers such as Joe.My.God, Rod2.0, BoyCulture and NGblog. But the interview goes further and includes one claim on which the Reverend and I agree: Without NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg stepping in and appealing a State Supreme court ruling, same-sex couples would have been able to marry long ago in New York State.
What follows are brief descriptions of each segment, followed by a full translated transcript. As an extra treat, I also have included a separate clip at the end in which Latino political pundit Gersón Borrero responds to the interview, calls Diaz "The Lucifer of the Senate" and provides a major bombshell which might explain why Diaz takes pain, during the interview, to argue that adultery is a lesser sin than homosexuality.
First segment available here: Diaz says that Senator Tom Duane is in his own dream world and lying to the people when he says that there are enough votes in the State Senate to pass the marriage bill.
Second segment available here: Diaz argues that Senators who remain undecided on the marriage bill feel ashamed of the gay community, says that his life will go on even if marriage equality happens in New York because he is used to "ups and downs", and admits that marriages between same-sex couples have no effect on his daily life.
Third segment available here: Diaz reiterates that homosexuality is a sin by quoting the Bible but then, when asked if the Bible also bans eating certain seafood, states "The Bible says many things" and can be used to justify just about everything; he argues that adultery is a lesser sin than homosexuality because it's about someone being at fault with a partner, whereas homosexuality is a fault against nature; and, to top it all off, Diaz says that having sex with a person of the same gender is like "having sexual relations with animals"; Oh! He also begins to lose it and to mumble his responses.
Fourth segment available here: Diaz says women who cannot have children have "an illness" and have a "failure" inside them whereas no two men can procreate as much as they try - and that this is the reason that infertile straight couples should be allowed to marry and gay couples should not; Diaz agrees with the statement that love has nothing to do with the reason why straight couples marry; and he argues that gays should be upset with NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and not him since Bloomberg supported an appeal to a State Supreme Court ruling that granted gays the right to marry. In this segment, Diaz finally loses it, saying that there is no such thing as separation of church and state in the United States, adding "I AM the State and I AM the Church!"
Fifth segment available here: Diaz addresses his role in opposing the 1994 Gay Games and public funding for the Harvey Milk School; he likens his opposition to having gay athletes come to NYC to recent efforts to prevent people with the H1N1 virus come into the US (at the time, he claimed gay athletes might spread AIDS in the US); he momentarily stops answering questions by simply repeating "I am a Pastor. I am a preacher. I am a believer in Jesus Christ, our redeemer and savior"; he acknowledges he has two gay brothers but says he won't change his views just to accommodate them; he chastises former Vice President Dick Cheney for allegedly doing as much with his lesbian daughter'; and, finally, acknowledges that whatever his beliefs are, same-sex marriage might soon become law in New York State.
EXTRA: Gersón Borrero on the June 19th edition of Pura Politica, discusses the marriage equality bill and NY1 Noticias' interview with Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr. - and reveals quite a bombshell about Diaz's stand on adultery during the previous show [direct link to clip here].
FULL TRANSLATED TRANSCRIPT
Intro: Juan Manuel Benitez (JMB) introduces a segment on where things stand with the marriage equality bill in the New York State Senate and a NY1 poll on which senators support or oppose te bill. He says that, of the four Latino senators, two support the bill and one (Monserrate) is undecided. He introduces Diaz as the only one that has announced his opposition and is asked to confirm his assertion that there aren't enough votes in the Senate to pass it.
It's the fourth anniversary of Pura Politica, so - before responding - Diaz sings happy birthday and then...
FIRST SEGMENT [watch it here] -
JMB: Senator [Tom] Duane is not... doesn't know how to count? Because he says that he does have the votes to pass this marriage equality law. You say 'no'.
RD: Well, it's not that Senator Duane doesn't know how to count. It's that he lives in a dream world and dreaming doesn't cost a thing. To dream... it is said that poor people live on 'hope', and dreaming is one of the benefits that God gave to humanity to - eh - let go of frustrations...
JMB: As we say, the math is more than complicated, but State Senator Duane says - Yes - that he has enough votes to pass the law. To this assertion you, Reverend, replied with a press release this week in which you said "If Senator Tom Duane has the sufficient votes in the Senate to pass the homosexual marriage law in the State of New York, he then should reveal the name of those senators who back the law. If not, shut up"... Why so much forcefulness in a press release like this?
RD: I don't understand when you say "forcefulness".
JMB: Forcefulness: "If not, shut up"...
RD: Yes, but I don't understand why you use that phrase.
JMB: Because the expression that you use is "Shut up", a pretty strong expression in English, as you well know.
RD: "Put up, or shut up", better said, call it like that, but, you cannot continue to play with people's minds, playing with the intelligence of the people, and say it. You have one thing or you don't have it. If you have it, why hide it? If you don't have it, you are lying to the people. And a legislator who lies to the people, I believe is a farce.
SECOND SEGMENT (watch it here) -
JMB: Let me read you another paragraph from that statement you released this week: It says "If there are Senators who do not want to give their names before voting for the homosexual marriage bill, they are giving a clear message to the gay community, and the entire state of New York, that these senators do not want the public to know, and that they feel ashamed to be publicly associated with the gay community" - Why do you think that someone might feel ashamed of being associated with the gay community.
RD: There is no other explanation! Better said, [if] I give you my word that I am with you, and if I say "I am with you, but don't say it to anyone else, don't give my name out", it's such an important matter in this American nation, such an important issue in the state of New York, when you give your word to someone, and say "I will be with you, but don't give my name". So, why don't you give your name? Does it make you feel ashamed? Is it that you don't want people to know? Or are you playing a little game... so, so... that legislator who says "I am undecided", ok, he's undecided. He who is undecided, it gives me the opportunity, there, to work with him. And it gives an opportunity to the enemies to go and work with him. He's undecided! Let me see... Now, he who says "I'm with you" and plays it publicly as if he is undecided, he is a hypocrite.
JMB: But let me... ah... ask you a question, Reverend, because imagine - it could happen - as it has happened in other states, now six states in the country - imagine that tomorrow you wake up and begin a new day and, that morning, you find out that the state of New York has passed the legislation that allows homosexual marriage. How would your life have changed on that day?
RD: It doesn't change because I am used to a life of ups and downs. And I was born an orphan and poor, and I brought up myself as an orphan in the streets from the age of nine, so I am used to a life of ups and downs. What I am saying is: If you, number one, there are 28 votes in favor. They are four needed, I need four to get 32...
JMB: But you are acknowledging to me that if, suddenly tomorrow, homosexuals can get married in the state of New York, your life wouldn't change; it wouldn't have direct consequences on your daily life.
RD: But why? Why would it have a day to day consequence? When my mother, when my mother, when my mother died...
JMB: So why... the opposition...
RD: when my dad died...
JMB: Why then the opposition to homosexual marriage?
RD: Aaaaah! That's THE question! Now you are asking THE question, not that my life is going to change...
JMB: Because definitely it's not something that will affect you directly.
RD: No, well, hm, no, well... In my religious beliefs, it affects me. In my religious principles, it affects me, in what I preach at church, it affects me. And it also would not have an effect because I would continue to preach the same thing, and I will continue believing the same thing. But, in my own view, I believe that God made a man and a woman and that he told them to get together and procreate - have sexual relations - and have children. And that is the purpose why God created Adam and Eve. And that is the mandate he gave. How will a man and a woman going to have sexual relations - eh - how will a man with a man will have sexual relations and will procreate children? That is an aberration in nature.
FOURTH SEGMENT [watch it here]:
JMB: Reverend, you participated a couple of weeks ago in a demonstration against these marriages. Let's take a look at some images from your intervention.
[Funny, they show a brief segment from one of my YouTube videos of Diaz riling up the crowd at the anti-gay rally that took place on May 17th]
JMB: Why once again, Reverend, the concept of 'evil' and 'sin' associated with homosexual unions.
RD: Because it's a sin.
JMB: It's a sin..
RD: Because God punishes it in the Bible, because God condemns it in the Bible, and because the Bible condemns it. It's a sin.
JMB: And where in the Bible is it condemned?
RD: Well, Romans 6... Romans, Romans, the Book of Romans, Chapter 1, Verse 26 and 27 says...
JMB: The Letter of Romans
RD: The Letter of Romans, of course, everyone can read it, and it says - practically - that when they threw away - and they had... and man changed the natural use of a woman, and became inflamed with lasciviousness, man with man, and, in the same way woman changed the natural use of a man, became inflamed with lasciviousness one with another, throwing the other one aside. God threw them out to a retrograde life. Better said, it's clear as can be: Man threw away the natural use of a woman and burned in lasciviousness, man with a man. I don't understand... I cannot give you more explanations. That is very clear in the Bible.
JMB: But also, you know that in the Bible there are prohibitions against many other things which are permitted in current society.
RD: Yes, of course.
JMB: Including Leviticus, in addition to calling an aberration what it's alleged to say about homosexual relationships, also says that it's an aberration to eat seafood, for example, crustaceans.
RD: The Bible says many things...
JMB: But there are many of those things which our society, nowadays, allows them and are legal, no?
RD: The Bible says a lot of things. You can look to justify anything that you want to do. In the same way that the Bible says certain things, you can also look for justification for whatever you want to do. Better said, I believe, the religion I preach, the religion in which I believe, teaches and believes not only that homosexuality is a sin, adultery, fornication...
JMB: So, now, for example, now that you mention adultery, for someone who has committed adultery, should it be legal for that person to be able to marry again after having committed adultery?... Do you think it should be penalized in any way in the civil laws of this country?
RD: Well, the problem with adultery is that you have one man committing an act of infidelity towards a woman. An act of infidelity! In homosexuality, it's an act against nature... better said, both are sins but they are very different sins. It's one sinning against the na-tu-re of God!
JMB: So you think that if being gay is a sin against nature, do you therefore think that homosexuality is a choice? Or is it simply...
RD: No, it's, it's like having sexual relations with animals, many people also want it...
JMB: So you think that having sexual relations - a man with a man or a woman with a woman - is like having sexual relations with an animal...
RD: They are acts against nature. They are actions AGAINST nature. It's not established by God's nature that things be that way. Natural things are those made by God. There are things that man changes - but not like this is - with God, but that is not against nature. Better said, God's nature is: God created them like this - MAN and WOMAN were created by God, male and female were created by God, and He said: Join together, fulfill each other and populate the earth. That's the Biblical mandate. Do you understand me?
JMB: So marriage, as you understand it, cannot be... it has to be a union that can... eh... or a union for procreation.
RD: For the procreation of children! hat is what God established! The procreation of children, to procreate children, eh, that is, that is the natural life of a man and a woman in what refers to the creation of God. A man with a man cannot create children, they can't be created by a woman with a woman. It's against nature!
JMB: And heterosexual marriages that cannot create children...?
RD: Look for any justification you want to find for the things that you want to do. The women that no longer can have children...
JMB: That's a marriage...
RD: Of course it's a marriage....
FOURTH SEGMENT [watch it here] -
JMB: Even if they cannot procreate.
RD: Yes but they cannot procreate, they cannot procreate, not because, not because - eh - God - not because they were born one way - they are made for - but they have an illness, they have an illness inside them which keeps them from procreating. They have a failure, they have inside them, that keeps them from procreating - that man or that woman. Better said, or they are sterile, they have a womb that cannot procreate, but it's not because... it's not, it's not, it's not like a homosexual. A homosexual is: That God made him so no matter what he does he cannot procreate.
JMB: So an union in marriage is not two people who love each other, it's not an union - as it has been during many years throughout history - that were economic unions, but simply a union to procreate. That's what marriage is.
RD: Of course! That's what marriage is!
JMB: That's what the law in the state of New York says?
RD: Of course! Look, let me tell you: The New York State Constitution prohibits marriage between a man and a man and a woman and a woman. The Constitution. You... Many homosexuals are angry with me. Don't get angry with me. They should get angry with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Because if they are not being allowed to marry today in New York, it's Bloomberg's fault because - in '95 - a judge authorized [gay] marriage here. It was Mayor Michael Bloomberg who wanted to run for president who decided "No, no! Let's appeal that decision."
RD: So... Let me finish this. So, the judges of the Court of Appeals of the State of New York decided that [gay] marriage is illegal. Now, they want to change it, not because the court says so, but so 32 persons can change it.
JMB: But also, referring to your intervention in that manifestation: You were saying that they attempt to silence the voice of the church.
RD: Of course!
JMB: You know that in this country there is a separation of church and state. Better said, you are a Reverend on one hand but also a State Senator. You have to - ehm -
RD: And what does that mean, tell me, what...
JMB: You don't establish a separation between the church and state?
RB: I can't!
JMB: You can't?
RD: I can't.
JMB: So, you can't - eh - ...
RD: The Constitution doesn't say "a separation of church and state"
JMB: In this country there exists a separation between church and state
RD: NO! The constitution doesn't say it!
JMB: you think there shouldn't be a separation of church and state...
RD: No, no, no, no, listen to what I'm teling you, my friend, the Constitution does not say that there is a separation between church and state. I'll tell you what has happened: The nine judges of the Supreme Court interpret it in that way. But the Constitution doesn't say the separation... "there should be a separation of churches and state"... the Constitution of the United States does not say such thing. The judges of the Supreme Court interpret it this way, saying 'Congress shall not promote a religion, nor will it halt the free growth of the same' - that is what the Constitution says.
JMB: So, following your argument, there is no separation between church and state in the United States...
RD: There cannot be! Because I AM the State and I AM the Church.
JMB: And you told me...
RD: I AM the Church and I AM the State. I cannot separate me from myself.
JMB: So, would you propose, for example, a law that would penalize adultery in the State of New York?
JMB: Since adultery is one of the commandments against the law of God?
RD: It's, it's, it's that it's a sin... It's law! It's law! [JMB: Would you penalize it, adultery?] It's that it IS penalized 'already' by law in the Constitution... the law says it - that adultery is punished!
JMB: How is it punished?
RD: Adultery... How is it punished?! Adultery, adultery is law, adulery is sin!
JMB: But in civil law, how is adultery penalized? How do you penalize a woman or a man in adultery...
RD: But wait, wait, wait! I am not asking for jail time or the penalization of homosexuals; I am saying it should not be accepted, just as adultery should not be accepted. That's all I am saying. I'm not saying, throw them in jail.
RD: Now you are asking me why...it's... eh...
JMB: No, but you are basing your way of legislating depending on what it says or soesn't say in the Bible.
RD: What it says... no, no... what it says... no, no, no... what it says in the Constitution of the state of New York.
JMB: Well, you have mentioned the Bible to me...
RD: Of course!
JMB: ...as a reason not to legalize homosexual marriages.
RD: I am telling you that it's not only the Bible that condemns homosexuality but that the Constitution of the State of New York, for which I am here to protect, also rejects it.
JMB: Before going to a commercial break, I have to remind you that this past May 27th, the California Supreme Court decided no to invalidate the referendum known as Proposition 8. This means that homosexual marriage is no longer legal in California. At the same time it decided not to invalidate homosexual marriages that have been celebrated during the past few months in this state, after the same tribunal legalized them last year. The only judge that opposed giving recognition to Proposition 8 was the only Latino judge in that tribunal, Carlos Moreno, who until last week also was listed as a possible magistrate to the Supreme Court of the country. Better say, gay marriage is legal in California only for a few people, for those who got married during the last few months...
FIFTH SEGMENT [watch iton here] -
JMB: And let me, because many think that you have based your political career on this topic, the topic of opposition to homosexuals. It includes, it is said, because I haven't been able to find the Spanish-language column that you wrote in 1994, you wrote a column about the Gay Games that were going to be celebrated here in the city of New York and you said: "It might be that some of the gay and lesbian athletes are already infected with AIDS and go back home with the virus." And you said that children could determine that, if there were so many gay and lesbian athletes,there was nothing wrong [with it] nor any risk. This is something you said in the year '94 and it created quite a stir. And in 2003 you also were opposed to giving additional funding to a high-school, the Harvey Milk School, which is dedicated specially to students who have had trouble at their school, or at home for the fact of being homosexual. You said that it took away finding from Latino students but, when it came down to it, Latino and African-American students were the majority in that school...
RD: ...GAY! The majority were homosexual. Better said, both situations give me the reason. Number one, the gays - OLYMPIC games for gays and lesbians - WHY! What do they have that is so special! There are olympic games for the deaf, for the mute, for those who limp, for the dismembered, for the elderly...
JMB: But you made it seem as if all of them had AIDS.
RD: Well, yes, because back then, Magic Johnson came out with AIDS and Magic Johnson was denied entry in another country.
RD: Because he had AIDS at that same time,so we were telling everyone - all those who were there - "Come in!" - at that time when things were difficult with AIDS and we didn't know - "Come in!" without having been checked. Better said, that is... that is... like now in Mexico. Why now in Mexico, when now you have that fever, everyone stops going to Mexico, and everyone begins to use protection - eh, eh - the same thing! You know! A catastrophe is happening. Why are we going to bring everyone here without checking. That's one thing... Number two: The homosexual school. Why a school with public funds for homosexual kids. Why not fr the cleft-lipped? And why not for the fat people? And where are the... the, the, the, the Latinos? Look at my district, they are in pigsties, they don't even have food, they don't have some disgusting 'toilets', why for a school - with public funding - for gays.
JMB: Reverend, don't you think that...
RD: No, no! You asked!
JMB: Yes, yes.
RD: - for gays, with air conditioning, with good technology, with the best equipment, with all the best things- for GAYS - specially, That is... it's... 'come on!' - please! So, I oppose it and they say I'm homosexual, 'I mean', that I am - eh - 'homophobic'. Because I am opposed to this. Noo!
JMB: But many think, Reverend, and you could be in agreement, that you have based your political career on this issue.
RD: I am a Pastor! I am a Pastor!
JMB: ...and that if homosexual marriages were approved in New York, you would lose your main political argument.
RD: I don't know!! I am a Pastor! I never - uhm. I am a Pastor. I am a preacher. I am a believer in Jesus Christ, our redeemer and savior.
JMB: Do you think that homosexuals...So, homosexuality is an illness? It's a choice?
RD: I am a preacher, I am a Pentecostal pastor, in the Evangelical church, a believer in my Lord and Savior...
JMB: But you are also a State Senator in Albany... You are a legislator...
RD: Of course!
JMB: A civil function...
RD: And the Constitution of the State says that it is illegal, homosexual mariage, so what am I to do?
JMB: Reverend. Do you think that if you had... Or let me ask the question in a different way - because you publicly recognized that you had two homosexual brothers.
RD: I do have them, yes.
JMB: It doesn't make you change your opinion, absolutely, the fact of having two homosexual brothers?
RD: So, just because my brother is an adulterer, a sinner, a thief, a drug addict, be whoever he'll be, it means I haveto change my position before the fact to acommodate him? No. That's what Vice President Dick Chaney did! Accomodating - because his daughter is a lesbian - accomodating so his daughter can belong. You can't do that! What is bad is bad. If one does a bad thing, it's bad. I care for you, I accept you, you are my brother, you are my friend, you are my neighbor, I love you, how can I help, we are there with you, but I cannot accept the sin... I cannot accept what you are doing. I cannot say it's a good thing.
JMB: So you do not see that - in the future - your position will evolve, because a couple of weeks ago we had Assemblymember Nelson Castro from the Bronx who is alos opposed to homosexual marriage - and, off-camera - he recognized that sooner or later homosexual marriage will be a fact in the State of New York, as it is in many countries of the world and also in other states of the country.
RD: Sooner or later, whatever happens, the pastor... the Biblical principles that once were, there it says - the world goes by and happens - but the will of God, the word of God, remains forever. Things can happen, everything happens, but the word of God is the same yesterday, today, and for every century.
JMB: And we could have discussed many other things but we didn't havethe time. We only had half an hour. Things, of course, change, and "Pura Politica" will be extended to a full hour beginning next week. It's a gift on our fourth anniversary. Today, as the Reverend said, we turn four years of "Pura Politica" - many thanks, Reverend, for having joined us. This fourth anniversary would not have been possible without your trust. As always, thanks for your attention. I'm Juan Manuel Benitez. Until the next one.
EXTRA: Gersón Borrero (GB) on the June 19th edition of Pura Politica, discusses the marriage equality bill and NY1 Noticias' interview with Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr. - and reveals quite a bombshell about Diaz's stand on adultery during the show [link to clip here]. Remember that the interview with Diaz happened before Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate shocked the political establishment in NYS by defecting to the Republican wing of the Senate and that the interview with Borrero happened after the move.
GB: And, on the other hand, for example, Pedro Espada: The fact that he wants to bring to - what is the heart of the Senate - a debate. You will have individuals, who have a homosexual partnership, the right of those persons to be treated as equal.
JMB: Yes, but Gerson, you and I know, first thing: You and I know that Republicans, during all the years they have been in the chamber, they also have not been characterized for giving much power to Latinos. And, secondly, it's that Pedro Espada. Jr., YES: He says he will bring the homosexual marriage bill up for a vote, but he knows he still lacks the voters...
GB: But the point is, Juan Manuel Benitez, that the issue can be debated openly. So that itcan't be hidden anymore, the Lucifer of the Senate, Ruben Diaz, who is a hypochrite. So much so that you had him as a guest, and you also asked about what is - certain little things he didn't speak about: Infidelity! You know he left on his own will. He wasn't loyal to his own wife. Let him come to say it again because I saw that interview he gave. That HYPOCRITE, who always spends his time harrassing homosexual couples and speaking about lesbians, don't let him... he has two [gay] brothers, which he admitted to you. But nevertheless I think he has a little bit of a latent homosexual, did you hear me?
JMB: Well, Gerson said it, I didn't.
GB: Yes, I said it!