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06/03/2011

NYS Catholic Conf. helps Ruben 'gays are against nature' Diaz seem like the victim

by Jeremy Hooper

At the recent rally that NY State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. (D-Bronx) co-sponsored alongside the National Organization For Marriage, a presiding pastor said that "those who practice [homosexuality] are worthy to death", another preacher said "breaking traditional marriage" will bring 'judgement and wrath of God' just like Sodom & Gommorah, Diaz' own wife, Leslie Diaz, called gays an "abomination" and based all of her civil rights opposition in her personal faith, a Puerto Rican speaker said that local star Ricky Martin is opening the gates of hell, and much, much more. The same Ruben Diaz is also currently boycotting New York's largest Spanish-speaking newspaper, mostly because the paper is too pro-LGBT for his liking. And then yesterday, we showed you comments where Senator Diaz quite literally says gays are "against nature."

But of course the New York State Catholic Conference doesn't have anything to say about any of that. As with most of the organized opposition to marriage equality, this Catholic group simply turn a blind eye to that which is inconvenient to "pro-family" movement's carefully workshopped victimization strategy. Regardless of how personally-targeted or beyond marriage the rhetoric so obviously and colorfully goes, they always -- ALWAYS! -- either ignore or even excuse it, so long as it comes from someone who traffics in "protect marriage" talking points.

Oh, but as for Diaz' personal, wholly unverified claim that he's been inundated with death threats -- something that every single credible equality activist strongly stands against? Well that of course gets NYS Catholic Conference's Executive Director Richard E. Barnes all kinds of concerned. Concerned enough to pen a lengthy letter on Sen. Diaz' behalf:

Death threats, real ones. The vilest filth directed at [Sen. Ruben Diaz] that you can imagine. It is now reported, in a popular political blog that all policy-makers read in Albany, that the “F*** Ruben Diaz 41785 129320771027 6234 NFestival” will be held soon in Brooklyn, where winners of the “F*** Ruben Diaz: Gay Erotica Featuring NYC’s Number One Bigot” writing contest will entertain themselves reading their dirty stories to each other, mocking this minister of the Gospel. And this is all known to the press and in the halls of the Capitol. So where is the outrage in the media? Where is the cry for tolerance and justice for Rev. Diaz against these hate purveyors? The answer, sadly, is that there is no outcry. Are they saving it for after something truly awful happens to this good man? Until the hate that is being incited boils over into violent behavior?

We are unjustly called “haters” and “bigots” by those who have carefully framed their advocacy strategy. The entire campaign to enact same-sex marriage is conducted under a banner of acceptance, and equality and respect for others. Yet behind that banner of tolerance is another campaign – of intimidation, threats and ugliness. What at first appears to be simple juvenile behavior by a few is becoming a culture and climate of abusiveness toward those who disagree. I hope and believe that it represents a minority of those advocating for same-sex marriage, but it needs to be publicly addressed by that advocacy community. Otherwise, is this the future we look forward to in our state? Intolerance masquerading as tolerance, intimidation in the name of respect? I hope not, but the wind certainly seems to be blowing in that direction.
FULL Letter: A Note on Intolerance [Facebook]

Now, let me start by saying that if I were running any of the state's pro-equality coalition groups, I would acknowledge the senator's claims and nip them in the bud. Because as stated: We all reject death threats whenever and however they come (this writer's experienced a handful of them). Sen. Diaz is obviously trying to connect these unverified, rare-if-even-real threats to the larger movement, which is both intellectually weak and unfair. So one group simply putting out a strong press release that firmly and obviously condemns death threats in the abstract, and perhaps even goes on to make a few points about the dangerous rhetoric cultivated by Diaz and his rally speakers? I personally think it might get some play. At the very least, it might make Daily News stories like this one a little more balanced.

But that being said: It is absolutely outrageous for the NYS Catholic Conference to use its considerable resources and outreach arms in this way! We are talking about a man who has condemned gay people's very nature and whose allies have said some truly HEINOUS things about the residents of a very LGBT-supportive and -inclusive state. But none of that is of any concern to the Catholic Conference. Instead, they are politicking with the senator's own carefully designed playbook, deliberately connecting these over-the-top claims and fringe activities with the actual legislative fight to make NY the sixth state (plus D.C.) with marriage equality. This is so offensive to not only the state's LGBT population and their majority supporters, but also New York Catholics (like Gov. Cuomo, for instance) who deserve a much more honest assessment of the issue before them!

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