Thursday, January 12, 2012

Nelson Rodriguez and Juan Rodriguez get married...

Photo: Juan Rodriguez, former president of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (Screen capture).

One of the least reported stories about the success of the marriage equality push in New York in 2011 was the role of Spanish language media and its positive impact on passage of the law. In particular, the decade long support expressed editorial pages of the most widely read Spanish-language newspaper in the city, El Diario La Prensa.

Last year, as the legislative battle heated up, El Diario's pro-marriage equality stand drew the wrath of homophobic Pentecostal preacher and Democratic New York State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., a leading opponent of the bill.

In April announced a boycott of the paper and said that the paper would be forced to drop its daily circulation by 20,000 copies.  He repeated the threat at several of the rallies he organized against marriage equality (video from one of the rallies here).

Editors stayed mum on the boycott most of the summer but a month after the law was signed into law, El Diario's Chief Editor and CEO Rossana Rosado appeared on NY1's "Pura Política" and spoke about the boycott's utter failure as well as the paper's longtime stand in support of marriage equality ("Was Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr.'s homophobic boycott against NY's 'El Diario La Prensa' effective?").

Interviewed by Juan Manuel Benitez, Rosado also revealed why the marriage equality issue hit so close to home and become such a personal issue for her (video of full interview here):
One of the first gay weddings will take place at my home. It will be between our friends Nelson and Juan who have spent 36 years together and who will get married and - at last! - they'll have the right to do it in this State.
This was also the year in which my daughter revealed to us that she is gay. She is 17 years old and her friends, her cousins, our family, everyone has given her their full support. There has not been a single negative reaction. I think that's the world we should pass on to our children.
The gay couple who planned to marry at Rosado's home were Nelson Rodriguez - who works for El Diario La Prensa - and Juan Rodriguez - who served as the former president of the Puerto Rican Independence Party of New York.

Rodriguez and Rodriguez were among the hundreds of couples who lined up outside City Hall in Manhattan on July 24th - the first day gay couples could register for a marriage license. Bryan Llenas, who was covering the story for Fox News Latino, happened to take this great picture of the happy couple. They would get married a month later on August 20th (photo used by permission from Bryan Llenas and Fox News Latino).

A month later, in October, Juan Rodriguez (on the right) would die from cancer.

On a special 'Top Stories of 2011' episode of "Pura Politica", host Juan Manuel Benitez took a look back at El Diario La Prensa's stand on marriage equality. He ended the segment by honoring Juan Rodriguez' life (turn on annotations for an English-language translation):

This, ladies and gentlemen, was one of the many reasons why El Diario's editors supported marriage equality - and one of the reasons why Senator Diaz wanted to boycott El Diario.


In a lighter vein, in the same show, political pundit Gersón Borrero was invited to discuss the stories of the year.  It might be a tad politically incorrect, but here was his take on Senator Diaz' opposition to marriage equality.


Borrero, a former editor at El Diario, has been calling Diaz "Lucifer" for years. Diaz, to this date and to the Senator's credit, Diaz still takes his calls.

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