Last month I posted a YouTube video of an extraordinary interview that was broadcast on "Pura Politica" - a weekly Spanish language political interest show that runs on the NY1 Noticias cable channel - in which Juan Manuel Benitez, the show's anchor - grilled homophobic NY State Senator (and Reverend) Ruben Diaz, Sr. on his vews on marriage equality as well as the separation of church and state.
Turning the Reverend's own arguments against him, Benitez got Diaz to admit that he believes that homosexual relations are akin to bestiality and that he believes that there is no such thing as separation between church and state (tell that to those who say that the Reverend is not really homophobic and that gays would love him if they got to know him a little better).
I took some time to actually translate the whole interview and to provide subtitles in English as annotations to the YouTube videos in order to make them available to a wider audience. What I didn't expect was for Benitez to go on air a week later and thank me for the effort and actually feature of an image Blabbeando on the NY1 Noticias (more on that at the end of this post).
The interview with Diaz, Sr. ran on June 24th, the Blabbeando kudos ran on July 3rd, and - researching the NY1 Noticias site for the latter - I found out that Benitez also interviewed Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. on July 12th! Jr., as you will probably not be shocked to hear, is Sr.'s son.
Above, I've posted a translated version of the last interview segment. The common perception is that Jr. is very LGBT friendly, and I know for a fact that he has welcomed the support of Latino LGBT leaders and has championed LGBT rights, stoping short of backing marriage equality - but his refusal to fully confront his father on the damage he does to the Latino LGBT community negates most of the good Jr. expresses towards the LGBT community. Benitez, who managed to get Sr. all tongue-tied about his views in the earlier interview, also manages to get Jr. to stumble on explaining whether he would support someone who declares that there is no separation between church and state if it wasn't for the fact that the Reverend is his father. As the segment opens, Jr. has just been asked what he thinks about his father's assertion on NY1 Noticias that homosexuality is akin to bestiality:
JUAN MANUEL BENITEZ: Your reaction...
RUBEN DIAZ, JR.: Well, obviously the Senator has his beliefs as a Reverend and I don't tell him - 'Papi' - how to vote in Albany and if he doesn't... We have an agreement: He doesn't tell me how to be borough president, I don't tell him how to vote in Albany. Eh, I am not in agreement with him comparing gays with animals, obviously; and I always tell my father that it's not necessarily the positions he has, but that when he takes it - when he takes a position - that he should do it in a way that is respectful of other communities... On my part, I as a borough president, I will continue to be president of 1.4 million residents in the borough of The Bronx, many of whom are gay. And, eh, the Reverend has his position, I love him a lot, and the only thing I say to the Reverend is that - in the future - he should also take into consideration how that position is viewed in other communities.
JMB: Because we asked him about it - He is a Reverend and he is a State Senator, perhaps he has two... but, well.. We asked him a very important thing - that seems important to us - because it's one of the basic principles of democracy in the United States. Let's listen...
JMB: You don't establish a separation between the church & state?DIAZ, JR.: The constitution says that there should be a separation between the church and the state. Eh, there are many elected officials, not only the Reverend Ruben Diaz, who make decisions - as legislators - keeping their religious beliefs in mind. But at the end of the day we have homework to do, we have a responsibility of trying in the best way possible to separate the two. So I am not in agreement when he says that there is no sep.. sep..
RUBEN DIAZ, SR.: I can't! The Constitution does not say "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.
JMB: So, following your argument, there is no separation between church and state in the United States...
DIAZ, SR.: There cannot be! Because I AM the State and I AM the Church.
JMB: And you told me...
DIAZ, SR.: I AM the Church and I AM the State. I cannot separate me from myself.
DIAZ, JR.: ...separation from the church. I believe there is, it's clearly stated in the federal constitution as well as in the constitution of the State of New York.
JMB: And is there a separation between father and son and political partners? Because as a father and a son, I imagine that you hold a special love for your father and do not want to go against him. But as a politician, you both belong to a political party, the Bronx Democratic party, in which both of you occupy public office. Have you ever entertained not supporting your father for having - I wouldn't say opinions related to gay marriage - but when it comes to take a look at the political function and the separation between church and state. Would you, for example, support a candidate that clearly states that he/she doesn't see a separation between church and state?
DIAZ, JR.: Depends on, eh, eh... I believe that, depending on the candidate, eh... I am not going to... eh... choose or support a person who is opposed to the Reverend Ruben Diaz, eh, but I do, as a son, know how to separate the two things. Politically speaking, we are not in agreement on a myriad of issues and topics. As a son - he as my father - I would never personally in my life - eh - will put myself to debate against him as my father. No... no... no... no... no... I will not fight him. But as a politician and a colleague in government we always fight. In private, as father and son, what Papi says, that's what goes. In the same way that when Mami tells me something that's what goes. I don't fight Mami, I won't fight Papi. Senator Diaz, I do fight him from time to time.
JMB: You, for example - as a way to give you a practical example - Would you automatically disqualify a candidate for the presidency of the United States if, among his/her political ideas, there appears that idea of "there is no separation between church and state"?
DIAZ, JR.: Yes, the answer is yes, and that's why I will never in my life support the Reverend Ruben Diaz as President of the United States.
DIAZ, JR.: Well, egh, ah, ah, ah... I supp... I supp... I would support a Democrat, a person who fights for education. Sometimes there will be Democrats who are liberal, other Democrats such as the Reverend Ruben Diaz who are conservative. And that's what's beautiful about our party: That there is a lot of diversity underneath that... that... of... of... of this party. And, in this case, we have a Democrat who is conservative. It won't be the first time or the last time that I would support a Democrat who is conservative. There also Democrats who are liberal, who I also support.
In the mantime, below is also a clip from the "Pura Politica" in which Blabbeando was mentioned. I've only translated the elevant part, which begins at 2:45 and ends at 3:55.
JUAN MANUEL BENITEZ: Ah, 'marriage'. So questioned, so trivialized, with little success nowadays. Why then would the gays want to get married? If they stopped pushing so much for marriage, they would perhaps leave 'Papi' - as the Bronx President calls State Senator Ruben Diaz (his father) - without his principal political argument. Thanks to the English-language blog "Blabbeando" our interview last week is causing an impact on the Anglo blogosphere, and it's that they have taken the time to translate it in it's entirety to English and using subtitles. To it's author, Andres Duque, "Thank you!"
Thanks for the thanks, "Pura Politica"!
- Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. honors Bronx Pride Day (July 31, 2009)