Bronx lawmaker refuses to apologize for anti-gay remarks
Originally published at: https://nypost.com/2019/02/10/bronx-lawmaker-refuses-to-apologize-for-anti-gay-remarks/
By Cedar Attanasio and Max Jaeger
City Councilmember Ruben Diaz Sr. said Sunday that he’d rather give up his powerful committee assignments than apologize to openly gay Speaker Corey Johnson for his homophobic comments.
Diaz Sr. — who was appointed by Johnson to committees on land use, public housing and transportation — again refused to apologize for saying last week that the City Council is “controlled by the homosexual community.”
Johnson is “asking for an apology, you know that,” the preacher politician Diaz told The Post outside his church.
Refusing to offer a mea culpa, Diaz added, “If he had to take away my [positions] away from me, I would understand that.”
Johnson said Sunday he is weighing his options.
“We are currently reviewing all potential disciplinary scenarios. Nothing is off the table,” Johnson said, citing Diaz’s “indefensible refusal to apologize or even acknowledge the hurt he has caused” — as well as the “many” council members who have called for Diaz Sr.’s censure or ouster.
The council’s LGBTQ Caucus and Women’s Caucus demanded his resignation in a joint statement Sunday.
But Diaz Sr. doubled down on his controversial remarks — and claimed that Albany, too, was under the “control” of the gay community.
“People don’t want me to speak the truth,” Diaz Sr. said. “They not only control City Council, they control the politics in the state.”
Meanwhile, the Stetson-hat-wearing politician, who voted to block gay marriage as a state senator, insisted that he supports Johnson, if not his lifestyle.
“How could I be homophobic when I voted for him, for Corey Johnson, to be speaker?” he said.
Diaz Sr. walked back false claims he made that Johnson was married — although he said he’d boycott the speaker’s nuptials if he ever did get hitched.
“No, no, no,” said Diaz Sr., who added that he has two gay siblings, a gay granddaughter and a gay niece. “I didn’t even go to my niece . . . my brother, I got a brother, I got [a] sister . . . I’m surrounded by gay [people].”
Committee chairs used to receive stipends of $8,000 to $20,000, giving speakers financial leverage over council members vying for the lucrative appointments. But the practice was eliminated when the body gave itself a raise in 2016.
Gay-rights leaders demanded that Johnson at least strip Diaz Sr. of his extra duties while demanding his resignation.
“This is so disrespectful and demeaning to the gay community,” said Allen Roskoff, president of the gay Jim Owles Democratic Club.
“I demand that Corey Johnson strip Díaz Sr of his committee first thing Monday morning,” Roskoff added.
–Additional reporting by Carl Campanile