Following a vitriolic interview vocal homophobe Sen. Rev. Rubén Díaz (D) gave last week comparing homosexuality to drug addiction, his lesbian granddaughter Erica Díaz has publicly rebuked him for his religious condemnations and also for using her to defend his bigotry. In a letter in today’s New York Post, Díaz describes how her grandfather outed her in a television interview before she had even come out to him:
I never told my grandfather.
Three years later I was watching grandpa do a TV interview. “I’m not homophobic. I have gay family members. I have a gay granddaughter.”
I was stunned that he outed me on the air, since I never spoke to him about it directly. So I marched myself to his church and sat him down in his office and told him that I was a lesbian.
Then, at his May 15 anti-equality rally (where at least one speaker proclaimed that gays and lesbians deserved death), Sen. Díaz invited Erica to join him after she had been counterprotesting across the street. She describes the day:
I was so nervous that morning that I threw up. I spoke against him across the street, directly within his view.
But then I approached a police officer who escorted me to the podium where he spoke. My grandfather introduced me to the crowd and kissed me on the forehead. “This is my granddaughter,” he said. “She chose her way of life, but I chose God’s way, but I love her.” [...]
You cannot tell someone that you love them and stay silent when people call for their death. “Love” is empty when you say someone’s life isn’t natural.
An overwhelming number of New Yorkers agree with Erica (58 percent), but Díaz’s message (trumpeted by the Catholic Church) seems to be resonating with key swing votes in the Senate. For example, Sen. Greg Ball (R) has said he will not vote for a bill that does not exempt religious organizations (like, say, Catholic Charities — which he explicitly references) from the requirement to recognize same-sex marriages.
If marriage equality is to pass in New York this month, advocates will have to resist the pressure by religious groups eager to maintain a special privilege to discriminate. Bullies like Díaz and apologists like Ball deserve to be called out, and Erica should be applauded for taking that step with her grandfather.