New York City council member Ruben Díaz Sr. refuses to apologize for homophobic comments he made last week, despite criticism from the LGBTQ community and fellow council members.
“When I get to the City Council, I find that the City Council is controlled ― most council members out of 51 council members ― over there, everybody is controlled by the homosexual community,” the Democratic councilman and former state senator said during an interview on the Spanish language radio show “El Desahogo.”
As an example, Ruben Díaz Sr., 75, told the radio show that City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is gay and married to another man. Johnson, who is openly gay and single, called for an apology in a statement released Friday.
“Council Member Díaz Sr.’s homophobic comments are offensive to both the Speaker and the body, and have no place in New York City,” Johnson said in a Friday statement to NY1 News. “He should apologize to all of his colleagues, and the entire LGBTQ community.”
Ruben Díaz Sr., an ordained minister of Puerto Rican descent, has been on the city council since January 2018. Although he’s a Democrat, he’s known for his socially conservative views including his consistent opposition to gay marriage and abortion. In 2011, Ruben Díaz Sr. was the only Democratic member of the New York state Senate to vote against marriage equality.
The councilman’s son, Ruben Díaz Jr., called for an apology in a Saturday tweet and described his father’s comments as “antagonistic, quarrelsome and wholly unnecessary.”
“NYC is a place where we celebrate our diversity and inclusivity. The LGBTQ community is unequivocally an essential voice in our City,” Ruben Díaz Jr., the Bronx borough president, tweeted.
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio (D) also weighed in on the controversy, calling Ruben Díaz Sr.’s comments “disgraceful and homophobic” in a Saturday tweet.
“The council member owes an apology to
@NYCSpeakerCoJo and 8.6 million New Yorkers,” he added.
Unfortunately, Ruben Díaz Sr. doesn’t agree that there was anything homophobic about his comments. In a Saturday tweet, he asked his followers: “What’s homophobic about saying that the gay community controls the nyc city council?” adding, “I’m giving them credit for the power and influence they have.”
In a follow-up statement, Ruben Díaz Sr. responded to calls for his resignation writing that he’s “sorry to disappoint,” but he will not be resigning. “The only ones that can ask me to resign are the residents of the 18th C. D. and that will be on Nov. 2021,” he added.
The councilman doubled down on his comments in an interview with New York Daily News.
“What I said is not homophobic, it’s the truth,” he said, adding that the backlash to his statement only supports the idea that city council is controlled by the “homosexual community.”
“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.”
Johnson responded to Ruben Díaz Sr.’s refusal to apologize in a statement to HuffPost on Monday afternoon.
“In the aftermath of Council Member Díaz, Sr.’s deeply offensive comments about the LGBTQ community − as well as his indefensible refusal to apologize or even acknowledge the hurt he has caused − many Members have called for disciplinary actions against him and/or his resignation,” he said. “I feel their anger and their pain. We are currently reviewing all potential disciplinary scenarios. Nothing is off the table.”
Ruben Díaz Sr. did not immediately responded to HuffPost’s request for comment.
This article has been updated to include Johnson’s response to Ruben Díaz Sr.’s refusal to apologize.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misstated that Ruben Díaz Sr. was the only member of the New York state Senate to vote against marriage equality in 2011. He was the only Democratic member of the state Senate to vote no.