Well, you appear to be both a homophobe and a fool.

I’m not even sure how to start with this quote:

Every Sunday morning, the deep, melodious voice of State Senator Rubén Díaz Sr. rumbles across the congregation at his Bronx church. On weekdays, it echoes across the Senate chamber as he rails against Medicaid cuts or abortion. Earlier this year, it enthralled thousands at a boisterous rally against same-sex marriage.

But ask him about the gay people in his own life, and Mr. Díaz’s voice grows quiet. His smile vanishes.

Two of his brothers are gay, he murmurs, one of them recently deceased. So is a granddaughter. There is an old friend who works for him in the Senate. And a former campaign aide.

“I love them. I love them,” says Mr. Díaz, who grew up one of 17 children in Puerto Rico. “But I don’t believe in what they are doing. They are my brothers. They are my family.”

His voice rises again. “So how could I be a homophobe?”

I dunno, the same way a man who loves his wife is still a misogynist if he berates her or beats her up?

Diaz isn’t just against same-sex marriage. Like a lot of homophobic anti-equality activists, he talks a lot about simply wanting to preserve the institution of marriage, but not wanting to do harm to gay people. Except:

For those fighting to expand gay rights, Mr. Díaz, a Pentecostal minister, represents the most outspoken and unpredictable of foes. He was forced to resign from the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board years ago for suggesting that the Gay Games would encourage homosexuality and spread H.I.V. In 2003, he sued the city to shut down a high school for gay and transgender students.

He insists he’s not a bigot because:

“My religion doesn’t allow me to dance,” he said. “But that does not mean I don’t go to the party. My religion doesn’t allow me to drink. But that doesn’t mean I can’t hang around with my friends. My religion is against gay marriage. It means, I don’t agree with what you do. But let’s go out. Let’s go to the movies. Let’s be friends.”

That’s all good and fine. But why doesn’t Diaz try to outlaw dancing or drinking? That seems to be the point he’s not getting — it’s one thing to have a certain belief system that I happen to think is ass-backwards. But when you try to legislate that belief system — not just your values generally, but specific religious rules — it’s out of place in what should be a secular legal system.

I’m glad that Diaz is kind to his gay friends and family — that is the absolute baseline of being a decent human being. Cookies all around. But I don’t think he understands what it means to be a homophobe. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you go around kicking all the gays you know. It does mean that you see gay people as somehow less — less deserving, less moral, less important. Diaz not only holds that view, but agitates for it to remain codified into law. If it’s unclear to him why that would make him a homophobe, perhaps he should quit his job and do something a little less intellectually trying.


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15 comments for “Well, you appear to be both a homophobe and a fool.

  1. November 10, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Hey, I don’t spit on all the black people I see, I just don’t hire them because black people are stupid- why do you keep calling me a racist?

    /diaz

  2. commie atheist
    November 10, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    His religion sounds pretty fucking sterile and boring. No dancing? What is this, 1953??

  3. ShelbyWoo
    November 10, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    I wonder if he lets his gay friends use the bathroom like the judge in LA lets his black friends do? That is apparently the marker that determines if one is a bigot or not.

    /sarcasm

  4. Wednesday
    November 10, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    If it’s unclear to him why that would make him a homophobe, perhaps he should quit his job and do something a little less intellectually trying.

    I’m sorry, but the rhetoric here really makes me wince. Yes, he’s a bigot, and in denial about it, but I think we should be discussing that as a moral failure rather than an intellectual one.

    Most people know that bigotry (including racism and homophobia) is wrong. And they don’t want to think of themselves as bad people. So I think a lot of homobigots reassure themselves that their anti-gay attitudes are not bigoted, they’re just… “traditional”, “religious”, “following God’s word”, “hating the sin, loving the sinner”, and all those terms used to mask the ugly core of bigotry at the heart of anti-gay positions and rhetoric. It’s self-delusion, not stupidity.

    I’ve actually had discussions with homophobic bigots who basically retreated to ignorance as a defense and justification of their bigoted position. Apparently, I was too educated and smart to possibly understand that they knew the truth of this matter in their “heart”, and it was meeen of me to use fancy logic and book learnin’ to compare their attitudes to racism.

    • November 10, 2009 at 2:11 pm

      It’s self-delusion, not stupidity.

      Honestly, I think it’s both. Failure to comprehend why agitating against the rights of gay people might make you bigoted strikes me as pretty unintelligent.

  5. November 10, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    I notice that all his gay acquaintances are either family or employees. Hm, wonder why he doesn’t have any gay friends.

  6. John
    November 10, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Since when does Catholicism forbid dancing and drinking?

    • November 10, 2009 at 3:16 pm

      He’s not Catholic, he’s Pentacostal.

  7. Kate
    November 10, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    thanks for writing this, jill. Made a frustrating day (in part because of people like this) a bit more bearable.

  8. November 10, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Pentecostals think we are all going to hell anyway. So might as well hang for a sheep as a lamb.

  9. Mrs Tilton
    November 10, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Less intellectually trying than Pentecostal holyman and NY state senator? So, basically, he should become a filter-feeder?

    • November 10, 2009 at 8:16 pm

      …good point.

  10. Glauke
    November 11, 2009 at 1:49 am

    It reminded me of a piece by The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates, in which he points to the inverse of this: it is perfectly possible that racist (and/or homophobic) people are quite nice friends and family members as well.
    http://ta-nehisicoates.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/11/you_sir_have_offended_my_honor_1.php

    Which, I guess, is better than a homophobe and an idiot.

  11. Marley
    November 12, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    ““My religion doesn’t allow me to dance,” he said. “But that does not mean I don’t go to the party.” ”

    That doesn’t even make sense as an analogy. If gay marriage was like dancing to him, then he would go to gay weddings and then just not get gay married.

    The article should be titled ‘Another Anti-Gay Marriage Idiot Fails to Come Up With a Coherent Argument’

  12. Freya
    November 28, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    I’ve known a lot of people in situations like this. They do actually care about their LGBT friends and family, yet until their first friend or relative came out, they always believed that gay marriage and everything was ‘wrong’. Therefore, when they make seemingly incoherent, contradictory statements, it’s usually not them intentionally being hypocritical, but rather a result of the fact that they’re very conflicted on the idea.

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