Local Lawmaker Says New York City Government Is Controlled by 'Homosexual Community'
By Denis Slattery
Bronx city council member Ruben Diaz Sr. refused to apologize Saturday despite mounting outrage over his comments that the chamber is controlled by the "homosexual community."
"What I said is not homophobic, it's the truth," Diaz told the Daily News.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who is gay, and others have called on Diaz to apologize after the conservative, cowboy hat-wearing councilman told a Spanish-language radio program the city government is "controlled by the homosexual community."
Diaz, a Pentecostal minister who has repeatedly ruffled feathers with his right-leaning stances on city and state issues, said during the interview with radio show "El Desahogo" earlier in the week that he felt unwelcome when he first joined his fellow electeds at City Hall because of his less-than-progressive views.
Now he fears he'll be booted from his spot atop the Committee on For-Hire Vehicles.
"This proves my point," he told The News. "I'm worried about them taking away the committee. If they put pressure on Johnson to take it away, he might do it."
Diaz has repeatedly earned the ire of his fellow Dems by vehemently opposing access to abortion and gay marriage, while supporting measures such as stop-and-frisk. In 2011, he was the sole Democrat in the state Senate to vote against the legislature's successful marriage equality bill.
"The disgraceful and homophobic comments made by Ruben Diaz Sr. don't reflect this city's values," Mayor de Blasio tweeted Saturday. "The council member owes an apology to @NYCSpeakerCoJo and 8.6 million New Yorkers."
The 75-year-old lawmaker's own son, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., also joined the chorus of voices condemning his father.
"NYC is a place where we celebrate our diversity and inclusivity," Diaz Jr. tweeted. "The LGBTQ community is unequivocally an essential voice in our City."
He went on to call his father's sentiments "antagonistic, quarrelsome and wholly unnecessary."
The elder Diaz refused to back down from his words, asserting that the backlash only added to his argument.
"You see the list of elected officials that are calling on me to apologize. That shows how much power they have," he said. "I'm the victim here."
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