Gay councilman Torres to run for Congress, pitting him against Diaz Sr, who has history of anti-gay remarks

David Caplan
July 15, 2019 - 6:12 pm

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- New York City council member Ritchie Torres officially announced on Monday his bid for the Bronx's congressional seat soon to be vacated by Rep. Jose Serrano, who is retiring after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

For the openly gay 31-year-old lawmaker, it means he'll pit himself against a voice largely considered homophobic: Fellow city council member Ruben Diaz Sr., a Pentecostal minister with a long history of making anti-gay remarks.

Some examples: Diaz, 76, in 1994 said that the Gay Games coming to New York would help spread AIDS and teach young people that “homosexuality is O.K., that it is not immoral or sinful behavior." 

And as a state senator, he vocally opposed gay marriage, once holding a rally against the legislation to authorize it as his gay granddaughter held a counter protest across the street.

This past February, Diaz said the "homosexual community" controls City Council.

"I don't believe in gay marriage but that doesn’t mean I hate people," Diaz has said. 

Torres, who was raised in public housing in the Bronx by his single mother, told the New York Times, "To have an elected official attack the quality and dignity of LGBT people sends a message to young people who are thinking of taking their own life as they struggle with their identity."

"Someone like Rubén Díaz winning that seat would be a minus," Sean Meloy, senior political director at the Victory Fund, a political action committee that supports LGBTQ candidates told the Times. "It would be like losing a seat for equality."

Rep. David Cicilline, an openly gay Democrat from Rhode Island, added, "What makes this race so important is that it’s shaping up to be a contest between Ritchie Torres and Rubén Díaz, someone who has demonized the LGBTQ community throughout his career and shown a profound lack of respect."