The City Council voted 45-1 to dissolve the Committee on For-Hire Vehicles on Wednesday, a commission created by Speaker Corey Johnson especially for Council Member Ruben Diaz, Sr.
“I regret appointing Councilman Diaz to his chairmanship,” said Johnson, in an impassioned testimony. “Trying to act in a charitable way to a man who had a history of saying these things–I’m sorry. I’m sorry to gay and lesbian New Yorkers who deserve so much better.”
The impromptu resolution comes after Rev. Diaz made several homophobic comments over the weekend, refused to apologize and rejected calls for his resignation. Diaz has a long history of making such comments, including stating in 2009 that homosexuality is “like having sex with animals.” In 2016, he campaigned for Republican Senator Ted Cruz during his abortive run for president.
“I will never forget the experience of being a suicidal teenager, terrified that the world would hate me for being gay,” said Johnson. “In many ways, this brings me back to that experience.”
The only “no” vote came from Chaim M. Deutsch, who spoke favorably of the work done by the Committee on For-Hire Vehicles and drew connections to anti-Semitic graffiti that caused an L train to be removed earlier on Wednesday morning. Council Members Fernando Cabrera, Andy King and Ydanis Rodriguez chose to abstain.
The committee to be dissolved, which discusses regulations on taxis and rideshare services, will have its duties folded into the Committee on Transportation, which is headed by Ydanis Rodriguez.
Diaz himself was not present for the vote.
“Hate speech leads to hate crimes. Demonizing people leads to real pain,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “Today, some queer kid in NYC is wondering if it’s better to die than to be themselves.”