Rubén Díaz Sr.

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Rubén Díaz
Rubén Díaz, Sr. 2014.jpg
Díaz in 2014
Member of the New York Senate
from the 32nd district
Assumed office
January 1, 2003
Preceded by Pedro Espada Jr.
Member of the New York City Council from the 18th District
In office
January 1, 2002 – January 1, 2003
Preceded by Lucy Cruz
Succeeded by Pedro Espada Jr.
Personal details
Born (1943-04-22) April 22, 1943 (age 73)
Bayamón, Puerto Rico
Political party Democratic
Children Rubén Díaz Jr.
Residence The Bronx, New York City
Alma mater Lehman College
Profession politician, pastor
Religion Pentecostal
Website Official website
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch Emblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg United States Army
Years of service 1960-1963

Rubén Díaz Sr. (born April 22, 1943) is a U.S. politician and an ordained minister of Puerto Rican descent. A member of the Democratic Party, Díaz represents the 32nd District in the New York State Senate. His constituency includes parts of the Bronx neighborhoods of Castle Hill, Parkchester, Morrisania, Hunts Point, Melrose, Longwood, and Soundview.[1] A Conservative Democrat, Díaz is known for his outspoken opposition to abortion[2] and same-sex marriage.[3]

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, Díaz has been a resident of New York City since 1965. Prior to arriving in New York City Díaz had served in the United States Armed Forces beginning in 1960, ultimately obtaining an honorable discharge three years later.[4]

He would go on to graduate with a Bachelor's Degree from Herbert H. Lehman College. Later, in 1978, he became an ordained minister of the Church of God, whose headquarters are located in Cleveland, Tennessee, and describes itself as evangelical and pentecostal.[5] At the same time, Díaz served as Executive Director of the Christian Community Benevolent Association, Inc., and as a pastor at the Christian Community Neighborhood Church.

In 1993, Díaz was appointed to serve on New York City's Civilian Complaint Review Board, and in 1997 he received an honorary doctorate from an evangelical university located in the Dominican Republic.

Díaz expressed anger at Governor Eliot Spitzer after Spitzer reversed course and abandoned his plan to allow illegal immigrants to obtain New York driver's licenses. Díaz said he had been betrayed by Spitzer.

Prior to his election to the State Senate in November 2002, Díaz served on the New York City Council, where he was the only elected member who was also an ordained minister.

In 2010 Díaz was challenged by Carlos "Charlie" Ramos in a Democratic primary campaign. Díaz won the primary by a margin of 79% to 22%.[6] Ramos' campaign complained of a number of polling irregularities, including intimidation of voters, bringing campaign literature into polling sites, and expelling certified poll watchers who worked for Ramos.[7]

Díaz has a son, Rubén Díaz Jr., who currently is the Bronx Borough President.

Gang of Three[edit]

Díaz is one of three Democratic Senators, known as the "Gang of Three", who threatened to abandon the Democratic majority elected to the New York State Senate on November 4, 2008. A fourth, Senator-elect Hiram Monserrate, backed out of the group in early November.[8][9] According to a memorandum leaked to the New York Times in December 2008, the remaining "Gang of Three" tried to use their leverage to have one of them named Senate majority leader and another named chair of the Senate finance committee, and to obtain a guarantee that the Senate would not vote on the issue of same-sex marriage.[10] This deal fell through, and the three reached a compromise[11] with State Senator Malcolm Smith in January 2009, recognizing Smith as Senate president and majority leader.[12]

In 2009, Rubén Díaz stated his intention to officiate at Hiram Monserrate and Karla Giraldo's wedding.[13]

Abortion and stem cell research[edit]

In 2008, Díaz was described as "the state senate's sole pro-life Democrat."[14] (In fact, then-Senator George Onorato of Queens was also pro-life, according to Democrats for Life New York;[15] and then-Sen. William Stachowski also self-identified as pro-life.[16]) Díaz has taken prominent public positions against expanding access to abortion[17] and against state funding of embryonic stem cell research.[14]

In a March 2005 speech on the State Senate floor, Díaz made the following remarks: "Abortion is the American Holocaust.... The comparison is plain: six million Jews were exterminated by Hitler in Germany; Almost 48 million babies have been exterminated in the abortion clinics of America. We have simply been in the killing for a longer period of time than Hitler.... Hitler used the ashes of the Jews to make bars of soap. In America, we are selling fetal tissue to be used in: the manufacture of cosmetics as well as for medical research.... Do not point your finger at Hitler; we are worse."[18][19] Díaz again compared abortion to the Holocaust in May 2012, drawing criticism from the Anti-Defamation League.[20] In 2008, when a colleague proposed legislation that would expand abortion rights in New York, Díaz described the bill as "one of the most dangerous and radical pieces of proposed legislation in New York State that I have ever seen."[21]

Opposition to same-sex marriage[edit]

In 2007, as his party, led by Governor Eliot Spitzer and Lt. Governor David Paterson, sought to pass same-sex marriage legislation, Díaz was a vocal opponent and was highly critical of Democratic support for the bill.[22] Díaz's opposition to same-sex marriage continued in 2008, when he vowed to vote against same-sex marriage legislation[23] and participated (along with hundreds of clergy) in a "Power in the Pulpit" rally held by New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms[24] in the Legislative Office Building to oppose same-sex marriage;[25] at the rally, Díaz was reportedly presented with over 15,000 petitions in support of continuing the state's opposite-sex definition of civil marriage.[26] In May 2009, Díaz led a rally against same-sex marriage in front of the New York City office of Governor David Paterson; the rally was attended by an estimated 20,000 participants.[27]

While Díaz has been an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage, a November 2009 New York Times states that Díaz "love[s]" his gay and lesbian relatives, but "[doesn't] believe in what they are doing."[28] The same article quoted Díaz's openly gay chief counsel as stating that Díaz "is a true believer in Christian values, in treating people the way you want to be treated."[28]

On December 2, 2009, Díaz voted against same-sex marriage legislation, which failed to pass the Senate.[29]

On May 15, 2011, Díaz led a rally of same-sex marriage opponents in the Bronx.,[30] while his granddaughter Erica Diaz, who is openly lesbian, led a counterprotest.[31] During Díaz's speech, his granddaughter came up on the stage with him, and Díaz hugged and kissed her and said, "This is my granddaughter. I love her. I love her. I love her. I respect her decisions. She does what she wants."[32] Erica subsequently stated that "You cannot tell someone that you love them and stay silent when people call for their death. 'Love' is empty when you say someone's life isn't natural."[33] Díaz has reported receiving numerous death threats, and a New York gay bar said it would hold a "Fuck Ruben Diaz" event.[34]

On June 24, 2011, Díaz once again voted against same-sex marriage legislation; however, this time the measure successfully passed in the Senate by a vote of 33-29. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill minutes after the passage, making New York the sixth state in the United States to legalize same-sex marriage. The law went into effect on July 24, 2011, thirty days after it was signed, per state law.[35]

LGBT issues[edit]

Opposition to Gay Games[edit]

In 1994, while on the Civilian Complaint Review Board, Díaz was critical of the city hosting the Gay Games, claiming that doing so would lead to an increase in AIDS cases and to wider acceptance of homosexuality by young people.[36] Díaz wrote that hosting the Games would lead children "to conclude that if there are so many gay and lesbian athletes then there is nothing wrong, nor any risks involved."[36] The other members of the Board issued a unanimous rebuke of Díaz's comments.[36]

Criticism of Harvey Milk School policy[edit]

In 2003, Díaz filed a lawsuit to stop the expansion of the Harvey Milk School, claiming that the school infringed upon the rights of heterosexual students.[37][38] The lawsuit was settled in 2006 after the school agreed not to discriminate against heterosexual students and not to restrict admission to students who identify as LGBT, and after the City of New York agreed that the school would be open to all students.[39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "NY Senate District 32". NY State Senate. Retrieved 2015-11-13. 
  2. ^ "Pol invokes Hitler to oppose abortion bill". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2015-11-11. 
  3. ^ Barkan, Ross (April 5, 2013). "Rubén Díaz Sr. Stands Fast Against Gay Marriage as His Own Son Supports It". The New York Observer. 
  4. ^ Rubén Díaz Biography
  5. ^ "Church of God is...". 
  6. ^ Kappstatter, Bob (September 15, 2010). "It was a day full of upsets after Sen. Pedro Espada lost to Gustavo Rivera, but others won too". New York Daily News. 
  7. ^ "More Reports of Election Irregularities: Ruben Diaz Sr. Breaking the Law?". The Daily Gotham. September 14, 2010. 
  8. ^ Confessore, Nicholas; Hakim, Danny (November 5, 2008). "Democrats Take State Senate". The New York Times. Retrieved November 5, 2008. 
  9. ^ "Monserrate The Odd Man Out". New York Daily News. December 5, 2008. 
  10. ^ Confessore, Nicholas (December 11, 2008). "Document Outlines a Failed Senate Deal". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ Hakim, Danny (January 7, 2009). "Democrats Reach Pact to Lead the Senate". The New York Times. 
  12. ^ Peters, Jeremy W. (January 8, 2009). "Democrats Take Control of New York State Senate". The New York Times. 
  13. ^ Borrero, Gerson (October 18, 2009). "Groom & $ doom for Hiram". The New York Post. 
  14. ^ a b Silobreaker: Pro-Life Dem Lawmaker Blasts Embryonic Stem Cell Research Plan
  15. ^ The Case for Pro-Life Democrats - New York, Democrats For Life New York
  16. ^ Stachowski, William T. (April 27, 2010). "Senator Stachowski Sponsors Right to Life Lobby Day in Albany". 
  17. ^ LifeNet: State Senator Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) speaks out powerfully against the Spitzer abortion bill
  18. ^ My Position On Stem Cell Research
  19. ^ "Diaz Hit For Nazi-Stem-Cell Link". New York Daily News. March 18, 2005. 
  20. ^ State Sen. Diaz Stirs Up Controversy After Comparing Abortion To Holocaust
  21. ^ Hakim, Danny (February 18, 2008). "A Day's Work in Albany, a Day's Pay, and $154 More". The New York Times. 
  22. ^ "Gay-Marriage Bill Passes, Fails, and Freaks Out a Bronx Dem". New York Magazine. June 20, 2007. 
  23. ^ Legislative Gazette - Strong reactions on both sides of gay marriage debate
  24. ^ New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms
  25. ^ New York Hispanic Clergy to Defend Traditional Marriage in Albany and Washington, DC
  26. ^ Power in the Pulpit's Inaugural Debut
  27. ^ Giove, Candice M. (May 18, 2009). "20,000 in Midtown Protest Gay Marriage, Paterson, Silver, Village Voice". Village Voice. 
  28. ^ a b Confessore, Nicholas; Peters, Jeremy W. (November 10, 2009). "Foe of Gay Marriage in New York Says It's Nothing Personal". The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  29. ^ "State Senate Rejects Same-Sex Marriage Bill". NY1. December 2, 2009. Retrieved December 2, 2009. 
  30. ^ Diaz Leads Thousands In March Against Same-Sex Marriage
  31. ^ Rival gay marriage rallies held
  32. ^ Senator and Granddaughter on Two Sides, but One Stage, in Debate on Gay Marriage
  33. ^ Lesbian granddaughter of state Sen. Ruben Diaz blasts him over stance against same-sex marriage
  34. ^ Same-sex marriage foe State Sen. Ruben Diaz & family hit with death threats over stance on issue
  35. ^ New York Says "I Do" from The Advocate 24 June 2011
  36. ^ a b c Hicks, Jonathan P. (March 3, 1994). "Board Disavows Diaz on the Gay Games". The New York Times. 
  37. ^ Herszenhorn, David M. (August 16, 2003). "Lawsuit Opposes Expansion Of School for Gay Students". The New York Times. 
  38. ^ Winerip, Michael (August 27, 2003). "ON EDUCATION; A Safe Haven Finds Itself Under Siege". The New York Times. 
  39. ^ Gay Only School Must Admit Straights

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Lucy Cruz
New York City Council, 18th District
Succeeded by
Pedro Espada Jr.
Preceded by
Martin Golden
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aging
Succeeded by
Martin Golden
New York State Senate
Preceded by
Pedro Espada Jr.
New York State Senate, 32nd District