Led by State Sen. Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx), a Pentecostal minister, hundreds of Bronx residents protested marriage equality in the “March for Dignity” May 15. Despite a persistent gray drizzle, a coalition of Latino religious leaders guided the crowd—comprised mainly of congregations from local churches—along Grand Concourse to the Bronx County Supreme Court in an enthusiastic rebuttal to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s intent to legalize same-sex marriage in New York this year.
Diaz, a well-known foe of LGBT rights and the Democratic leadership in Albany, clearly sought to shore up his credibility among values voters in his district. In a statement released only in Spanish, Diaz said, “it is time for our community to stand up and fight for those moral, social, civic and cultural rights found in the Bible and our grandparents taught is in our Hispanic countries.”
A smaller counter-protest, led by Diaz’s lesbian granddaughter Erica Diaz and her partner, Naomi Torres, featured signs reading “Marriage is a Human Right” and “Matrimonio para Todos.” “I wanted [my grandfather] to know I’m here and I stand for what I believe in,” Erics Diaz, a former Marine, told a reporter from the New York Daily News. “I respect that he’s firm on what he believes in, but it bothers me. It hurts.”