Editor's Note: This editorial first appeared in the most recent issue of the Tremont Tribune, out now. We're experiencing some technical difficulties right now with the paper's website, but we're hoping to have them worked out soon.
On Sunday, May 15, State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., who represents the 32nd District, will lead an organized march down the borough’s tree-lined Grand Concourse.
That very same day, less than five miles south, thousands of other New Yorkers will also be walking, through Central Park—part of the city’s annual AIDS Walk New York.
But Diaz and his allies won’t be marching to raise money to fight a life-threatening disease, or in the name of cultural celebration, or to protest a gross violation of civil rights—quite the opposite, in fact.
The senator is rallying against the idea of legalizing same sex marriage in New York, an idea that’s set to be considered by the legislature in Albany this spring and has the strong support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, not to mention a growing coalition of residents and gay-rights groups.
In his actions, Diaz (not to be confused with his son, the borough president, who is a gary marriage supporter) is asserting that his personal religious beliefs are enough to justify denying an entire group of New Yorkers the multitude of benefits that come with legal marriage—the right to visit your partner in the hospital should they get sick, the right to access your spouse’s health insurance coverage, to name just a couple.
“I have never preached hatred toward anyone, and I denounce those who do,” Diaz said in statement he sent out recently, defending his decision to host the anti-gay marriage parade.
But what could be more hateful than denying one group of people the same basic human rights dignities that we allow everyone else? What’s more hateful than being told, because you love and want to marry someone of the same gender, that your love is worth so much less that it should be illegal?
Diaz can say that he’s never preached hate. But when elected officials spout homophobic rhetoric—when elected officials throw parades to celebrate blatant civil inequality—it is difficult to see it as anything else.