Diaz Fans The Flames

The above headline is from Elizabeth Benjamin’s excellent politics blog for the NY Daily News, where today she notes that renegade Democratic NY Sen. Ruben Diaz has issued a statement of support for Rick Warren.

Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., who infuriated gay advocates for tying his state Senate leadership vote to the issue of same-sex marriage, released a statement yesterday praising Barack Obama for picking Rick Warren to deliver his inaugural invocation – a move that is unlikely to improve the conservative Democrat’s standing with the LGBT community.

Here’s an excerpt of Diaz’ statement of thanks to Barack Obama:

“Obama has sent a message to the world that ‘Yes We Can’ has a Democratic Party where everyone should be included. It has been the belief that the Democratic Party is owned exclusively by certain groups, and if you do not believe in nor follow the ideology of these groups and their agendas, then you will be a registered outcast. You will never be invited to official Party activities. You will not get their support, and they call you names and do everything possible to push you out of the Democratic Party. To some people, if you oppose homosexual marriage and abortion, you are not a Democrat and you are certainly not be invited to deliver an inaugural invocation To those people, it does not matter how hard you fight to protect human services by creating job opportunities for your community, bringing low income housing to the poor, fighting against the closing of health services, protecting the immigrants, and opposing the Governor of the State of New York and the Mayor of the City of New York for cutting needed services when they try to balance their budgets on the backs of the poor and less fortunate families and senior citizens.”

Jeff Campagna, leader of Facebook marriage equality group The Power, responds:

“I’m deeply disappointed (though increasingly not surprised) by gay leaders, Democratic and otherwise who give the Obama transition a free pass on the Rick Warren invitation. It is not trivial. Not only is Rick Warren a hatemonger who uses gay rights to divide; his invitation gives political cover to others like him.

“Today the Daily News reports that New York’s Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., a rabid homophobe and a Democrat, is reading Obama’s invitation of Rick Warren as validation for his bigoted positions (see below). He says in the article that Obama, “set an example that many leaders of the Democratic Party should follow.” Perhaps you are familiar with Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., the Democratic New York State senator from the Bronx who rallied a gang of three rogue Democrats to prevent a pro-marriage equality Senate Majority Leader (Malcolm Smith) from taking office in January. Diaz, like Warren, is an evangelical minister. In addition using LGBT rights as a bargaining chip in the senate, in 2004 as a city councilor he tried to stop Stonewall 25 (claiming it would bring AIDS to New York City), and he also filed suit to close the Harvey Milk School for at-risk LGBT youth.

“As the leader of the movement to call on Diaz and his cronies to be good Democrats and to support their party’s takeover of the New York State Senate, I’m disgusted to hear that Diaz is now using Rick Warren’s invitation to the invocation as evidence that bigots like himself are welcome at the table, while Democrats and activists are trying to render him politically powerless in the struggle for control of the New York State Senate.

“Barack Obama is no longer in a political campaign. Now it’s time for him to lead. If he really believes that our relationships are as valid as his and Michelle’s, if he really believes that there should be a zero tolerance policy for hate, if he really opposed Proposition 8, and if he really believes that our relationships should never be equated with pedophilia and incest, then he should say so in the strongest terms possible, with a re-commitment, in fact an increased commitment, to action to bring about equality for LGBT people. Because at the moment, he’s sending a distinctly different message. And those who would deny us our rights are hearing it loud and clear.”