One of the loudest voices in the state’s fight over gay marriage is right here, in New York City.
A bill to legalize gay marriage was introduced Tuesday in the state Assembly. But Bronx state Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. is marshalling his forces in opposition: Diaz will hold a “rally to protect marriage” Sunday.
“There’s nobody else who does this,” said Dirk McCall, executive director of the Bronx Community Pride Center, the offices of which are located around the corner from where Diaz will rally. “Even the other people who vote against us don’t organize rallies and protest against us.”
“He’s the most vocal senator in the state against marriage equality,” added Anthony Brown, executive director of the Wedding Party, a marriage education organization.
Critics have accused Diaz of planning the rally to overshadow the annual New York AIDS Walk, which will also be held Sunday in Manhattan, a charge Diaz denies.
Diaz, who told The New York Times he has two gay brothers, says he is not homophobic and is only speaking out on behalf of New Yorkers who don’t want legal gay marriage.
But Marjorie Hill, head of Midtown’s Gay Men’s Health Crisis, said the rally will not help people accept gays, which would help blunt the impact of AIDS. “We are distressed that Sen. Diaz would focus his attention on increasing homophobia,” she said.
McCall said his members plan to attend and counterprotest Diaz on Sunday, although most will be at the AIDS Walk in Central Park.
Diaz, a pastor who has been a senator since 2002, said he expects thousands will attend his rally on Sunday, which he said is to, “oppose proposals to redefine the definition of marriage to include homosexual marriage.” He also said that the rally was not meant to intrude on the AIDS Walk.
Is now the time?
This is the fourth time Manhattan Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell has introduced a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.
Gov. Cuomo promised to prioritize a gay marriage bill. Advocates say this is the year for passage.
Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @AlisonatMetro.