Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr.'s response to the anti-gay attacks in the Bronx

I admit it. I was wrong. Yesterday I said the Reverend (and New York State Senator) Ruben Diaz, Sr. had yet to respond to the horrendous anti-gay attack that took place in the Bronx earlier this month and it turns out the Reverend had indeed put out a statement repudiating the crime.

You wouldn't know it, though, if you visited the Senator's official website which currently lists two top stories:

The first one challenges New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his support of marriage equality.

The second highlights the Senator's support for Bangladeshi Americans in denouncing "hate crimes" in the Bronx against their community.

Having checked there first, and not having found any statements decrying the attacks, I asked some Bronx LGBT advocates and they hadn't heard a thing from the Diaz camp either.

I should have asked his office directly or read the Spanish-language press.

On Sunday's edition of El Diario La Prensa published an article titled "Indignation at attacks against gays in the Bronx."

According to the paper, they received a press statement from the Reverend which said the following:
I am surprised by reports in the press about the depraved criminal acts committed by nine young men who tortured and robbed two adolescents and a man in an Osborne Place building in the Bronx. My prayers go with the victims and their relatives. Nobody deserves to be brutalized or victimized.
I am grateful to the Senator for speaking up. I truly am. Still, there is a couple of glaring omissions from the statement and at least one journalist noticed one of them.

From a column published yesterday in the New York Daily News authored by political reporter Bob Kappstater ("Bronx hangs its head in wake of heinous gay-bashing attack"):
State Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. is against gay marriage. That's his religious belief as a Pentecostal minister - and his right. But he could have been a bigger man when he issued a statement Saturday, condemning the attacks - but not once using the word gay [italics mine].
Some may say that people are stretching facts a bit too far to find any fault in the statement. But consider the fact that said statement is nowhere to be found on his official site under blog entries, news items or press releases.

In addition, it's striking that the Senator would deem fit to criticize Bloomberg on gay issues and never admit in his statement that the attacks in the Bronx were in any way related to homophobia.  More striking is the fact that ten days ago he was highlighting his work to combat hate crimes against Bangladeshi-Americans in the Bronx and that in his statement about the horrific homophobic crime in the Bronx he also holds off from mentioning the term "hate crime".

It's definitely not the kind of leadership in the Bronx that Gerson Borrero is calling for.

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