New York Senator Embraces Lesbian Kin While Fighting Gay Marriage

The concept of hating the gay "sin" but loving the gay "sinner" was displayed in stark outline Sunday when a New York state senator leading a large South Bronx rally opposing gay marriage embraced his lesbian granddaughter on stage and declared, "I love her, I love her" – just minutes after another speaker on the same podium cited a Bible passage stating that homosexuals don't deserve to live.

Moments before three-term Democratic state Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. shared a public embrace with Erica Diaz – who had come to the rally with her girlfriend as a counter-protester – Rev. Ariel Torres Ortega of Radio Visión Cristiana, speaking in Spanish, quoted from Romans 1:27-32, which includes the passage that gay people are "worthy of death." Speaking with evangelical fervor through an on-stage interpreter who badly mangled the English translation, Ortega said that for those "committing sexual acts between man and man … God gave them over to reprobate minds to do things that are not right, [such as unrighteousness], fornication, perversity, aberrations, malignancy, no manners, murders, lies, contrar[iness] … Those who practice such things are worthy of death."

Diaz – a Pentecostal minister who also has two gay brothers, and whose former chief counsel was openly gay – is trying to stanch a rising political tide in New York supporting legalized same-sex marriage. During his campaign, the state's popular new governor, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, vowed to be the one who would sign gay marriage into law. Recent public opinion polls have shown majority support for passage. The New York Assembly passed a same-sex marriage bill in 2009, but the Senate – thanks in part to Diaz' efforts – defeated it by a 38 to 24 vote. Two senators who voted against the 2009 bill have been replaced by gay-marriage supporters, and advocates are confident that a well-coordinated, $1 million campaign could swing the additional votes needed to pass the measure.

Diaz often has attested to his affection for LGBT people but has stood resolutely against gay marriage. He told his gay chief counsel Christopher R. Lynn in 2009, "For me to accept this, I have to turn my whole value system upside down." So, resorting to the popular anti-gay tactic of depicting religious people as the victims of the diabolical plans of evil gays, Diaz in April accused Cuomo of "targeting communities of faith in an effort to redefine marriage." Diaz called on like-minded politicians and clergy "to oppose Governor Cuomo's blatant and shameful attack on New York's people of faith." Exactly how allowing LGBT people to solemnize their relationships as legally recognized marriages constitutes an "attack" on people of faith wasn't made clear – but then, it never is.

Erica Diaz is a former Marine who was ousted under the military’s soon-to-be-vacated “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Though she came to protest the rally, she consented to appear on stage with her grandfather to show that he is not an unloving man. He then said to the crowd, “This is my granddaughter. I love her. I love her. I love her. I respect her decisions. She does what she wants.” But if she were to marry another woman, Diaz said in an earlier interview, “I would not go to the wedding.”

He doesn't love her that much.