Sunday, August 08, 2010

NYS Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr.: Supreme Court will allow same-sex marriages as a sign of the end of days

The last time homophobic New York State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. visited the studios of local news channel NY1's "Pura Politica" in June of 2009 anchor Juan Manuel Benitez meticulously and calmly asked questions that reduced the ordained Pentecostal  reverend to this:

"I am the church, and I am the state", he kept repeating. "I am the church, I am the state".

With those words, the Reverend stood naked in in his religious-based bigotry and basically admitted what everyone knows: The Senator couldn't give a damn about separation of church and state as well as the secular laws he was elected to protect.

The Reverend's vitriolic homophobia is legion and has left a trail of destruction behind him.  From opposing the 1994 Gay Games in New York City because he claimed visiting gay tourists would spread AIDS through the city's population to opposing the opening of a school planned to serve LGBT youth (the Harvey Milk School would later open after it made concessions to Diaz and made it explicit that it would not only serve LGBT youth but also heterosexual youth).

But he's become best known, perhaps, for his unrelenting opposition to marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples.  As a New York City councilmember and now as a Senator he has been the most visible face and voice of opposition to bringing New York State closer to passing a marriage equality bill.

So it was back to "Pura Politica" on Friday to discuss a federal court's decision to strike down Proposition 8 which had banned such marriages in California.  And Diaz, true to himself, did not disappoint.

It's a long clip which consists of two segments.  In the first, Benitez masterfully confronts Diaz on his opposition to marriage equality and, in the second, my friend Pedro Julio Serrano speaks to Benitez about the reach and effects of the Proposition 8 ruling last week in California.

Highlights:  As in last year's "Pura Politica" appearance the Reverend made some jaw-dropping statements. Most surprisingly, the Reverend believes that the Supreme Court will take up the issue of marriage equality and decide in favor of the gay community [please keep in mind these is a word-by-word translation which means there might be "uhms" and "ah"'s as well as breaks in in the line of thought as each person speaks]:
[At the 2:11 minute mark]
Juan Manuel Benitez: Do you think this will reach the Supreme Court and if that happens what will be it's decision...
Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr.: Of course! Of course! The Supreme Court will say that what the court did is reasonable, if one assumes that they are full of liberal justices, and they'll say "It's like that.
And the reason why Diaz believes the Supreme Court will rule in favor of granting marriage rights to same-sex couples? Well, it's not only what Diaz calls "liberal" and "activist" judges on the bench, picking up right-wing memes. He actually says the Bible told him so:
[At the 3:23 mark]
Juan Manuel Benitez: During the last year, since you were last here for the entire show to talk about this issue, there has been another country, in this case in Latin America... two more countries in Europe, in Portugal, and Argentina which are legalizing unions between same-sex couples.  It seems this movement is unstoppable in many countries of the world. Are you not fearful of being left on the wrong side of history on this issue?
Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr.: If you read the Bible, and it's where I base myself upon, the Bible says that all these things will happen at the end and that this needs to happen, but because I don't do it... I do it based on biblical reasons - what does the Bible tell us? That the biblical prophecies indicate that all this will happen and that this is the way...
Juan Manuel Benitez: In other words, the Bible says that homosexual marriage will...
Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr.: What the Bible says is that at the end of the road, what's evil and everything that is against the will of God, and everything that is against the moral principles will come to pass, they will win.
Yes, you read it here first.  NYS Senator believes that the Supreme Court of America will allow same-sex couples to marry as a sign of the end of times.

Earlier, there is an incredibly disturbing exchange in which Diaz scoffs at the fact that gays are asking for their civil rights. Benitez is questioning Diaz as to whether people's civil rights should be put to a popular vote and asks Diaz whether he would have sponsored a referendum on the 1960's groundbreaking civil right law just because the majority of the citizens of the United States opposed it at the time.
[At the :56 second mark]
Juan Manuel Benitez: But in the 1960's, when the civil rights bill was passed, would you have granted the people of the United States a referendum, the power to decide?
Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr.: What civil rights are you talking about? These are people who have rights. What civil rights! What are the civil rights? You know... these are civil rights... What civil rights? I don't understand. I don't understand the "chicken and rice" [arguments] you guys employ: "Civil rights". What civil rights?
Juan Manuel Benitez: Well, according to the judges...
Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr.: What has anything to do... what does the abuse of blacks have to do, in those times of the 1960's - and I also experienced abuse down south - and those things that stemmed from black slavery, what does it have to do with a person... if I want to be - eh- homosexual, I want to be a lesbian, and I'm not allowed, "I want to be", "I want to have" - that union of those two... I don't understand that, honestly, I don't understand it.
Juan Manuel Benitez: Well, it's not that these people say I "want" to be homosexual.  These people ARE homosexual...
Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr.: Well, whatever they might be...
Juan Manuel Benitez: A person doesn't elect if he wants to be black or if he wants to be white...
Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr.: Whatever they might be whatever they might be, whatever they might be...
Why do I get the sense that when anyone says anything different than what the Reverend believes he just stops listening and keeps repeating the same thing over and over? Anyway, look at the utter arrogance and contempt that crosses his eyes as he discusses whether gays and lesbians are worthy of being granted civil rights.

These exchanges lead to what I thought was the most stunning part of the clips.  No, it's not Diaz stating that we will achieve marriage equality because we are nearing the end of days.  It actually doesn't come from Diaz himself.  It's Juan Manuel Benitez taking a moment in the next segment to address his viewers as he welcomes Pedro Julio...

[At the 4:30 minute mark]
Juan Manuel Benitez: Here at "Pura Politica", we've spent years debating this topic and, as we've done it, little by little, throughout the world, different countries, states and cities decided that - yes - these unions should be recognized in the same way as heterosexual ones.  And, at the same time, the predictions of the destruction of the family, of danger to children, and even the end of the world, as our previous guest warned, have not become reality. Hence, a few weeks ago, we already said here that legally and historically the opposition to these marriages is being left without arguments. Religious-wise, that's for each one to believe what they want. Thank God, this country is ruled by the text of law and not texts of religion, mythology or superstition; and I say 'Thank God' because it would be impossible to satisfy every creed and, when it comes to it, what's being asked is not to be allowed into a Synagogue or Mosque to get married, but simply City Hall or the town council. 
Just stunning. Benitez has a periodical OpEd piece in El Diario La Prensa and often prepares an OpEd segment for "Pura Politica" as well but, as the host of the show, I've always seen him maintain an objective voice when it comes to the topics addressed by the guests who are invited, as it should be.  A great political interviewer uses arguments to elicit comments from his guests and Benitez is amazing at it.  But something about the interview with Diaz - which was taped on Thursday and aired on Friday - must have set Benitez off enough to feel it was important to establish an editorial voice in the face of Diaz's hurtful statements.  I personally thought it was a great thing to do and I thank Benitez as well as the producers of "Pura Politica" for standing on principle.

He also opens his questions for Pedro Julio with the following question...
Juan Manuel Benitez: President Obama says he is against Proposition 8, which momentarily banned many marriages that took place in California, but that he still believes that marriage is between "a man and a woman". Explain this to me because I don't get it.
Pedro Julio does a great job, as he always does, of responding to that question and, like Diaz, he prognosticates that ultimately marriage equality is a movement that is unstoppable and will emerge victorious throughout the word. Unlike the Reverend, Pedro Julio doesn't argue that the end is near.  He argues that simply and plainly we all deserve the same rights as others.


Wonder Man said...

he is unbelievable

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this reporting Andres-
a wonderful distillation of a very frustrating and amazing situation!

Glenn Ingersoll said...

"the opposition to these marriages are being left without arguments"

I've seen people online gasping at the crappy case the Defendent-Intervenors put together to support Prop 8 and justify prevention of marriages among same sex couples. Were they trying to lose this case? go the splutterers.

But, as you quote Juan Manuel Benitez, there just isn't a case. I could not imagine up one that differed much from the one the D-Is put up. Not having a case hasn't prevented their side from winning ALMOST ALL marriage cases up to now. We've got a few wins at last and victory seems inevitable?

One thing that this reminded me of: the very recent federal court case against Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell brought by the Log Cabin Republicans (!) in which the US government essentially put on the same case as the Prop H8ers. The govt said, "We don't have to put on a case. We're the military. You're just a judge. We don't need reasons or evidence." That was their argument. All the actual evidence was against DADT so the govt stood on tradition.

Santos Hernández said...

Bién,entonces políticamente,estamos
excluídos del derecho ciudadano a
participar en elecciones.Meditemos,
¿en qué muchos otros aspectos somos
considerados ciudadanos de 2da.? En
tiempos eleccionarios,como los que
se aproximan,politiqueros como el
Sen.y Rev.Díaz y tantos otros,están
en sus posiciones,gracias al por
ciento,tal vez más numeroso de seres al margen de la biblia,por así decirlo,como:sexo servidor@s,
usuarios de drogas,miembros de la
comunidad LGBT y muchos otros que podemos mencionar,que de igual manera,forman parte de su grupo
Elité y Casi perfecto.Justo en éste
proceso andan estrechando manos a
todos sin preguntar,preferencia sexual,vicios,etc.Es nuestro deber
ciudadano,analizar las propuestas
de los candidatos que elegimos.Es
ésta nuestra mejor herramienta para
combatir personas con estrechez
mental y hacerles saber que en todas y cada una de las familias y hogares,existe alguna situación fuera de la ley,de la biblia o de
pautas o normas sociales establecidas.Como dice un viejo refrán,"El que no tiene dinga,tiene
mandinga".No claudiquemos.

Lucrece said...

Esa bestia horripilante es un misterio de lo que llamo la desgracia democratica.

Que clase de grupo debe representar tal animal para que un burro decrepito sea elegido senador estatal.

libhom said...

I thought militant fundamentalists like Diaz were looking forward to the End of Days and the Rapture. If the guy didn't have so much power, he would be comical.

Bryan said...

Just another narrowed minded fool, the worlds full of them.

Anonymous said...

Ruben Diaz is the only politician out there that makes sense. Marriage Equality? When a sexual union between 2 men or 2 women, produce a child, then will such union be equal to that of a heterosexual couple. Gay couples are not prevented from acquiring jobs, renting apartments, purchasing property, benefits are available to homosexuals. Same sex marriage? No I don't think so. But as the Senator said, yes due to selfserving politicians, it will pass. The bible does say that in the end times we will return to the days of Sodom & Gomorra. You interpret what that means......We are on our way.