Erica Diaz, the lesbian granddaughter of New York state senator Ruben Diaz Sr., has spoken for the first time about the personal pain caused by her grandfather, "Albany's most outspoken marriage equality opponent."
Diaz, 22, spoke about her feelings to the
New York Post
She described an inability to stay silent as her grandfather, a Bronx Democrat, amplified his attacks against the marriage equality bill that could see a vote in the Republican-controlled senate in the next two weeks.
"When I was younger, marriage equality was not an issue for me," said Erica, who was discharged from the Navy under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. "But now, as my grandfather ceaselessly and callously comments on the issue, each and every word stings, since I live with my girlfriend of 2 1/2 years, Naomi Torres, and our two sons, Jared and Jeremiah Munoz."
Last month Erica attended a rally against marriage equality hosted by her grandfather, in order to force him to face her. The senator introduced his granddaughter and told the crowd of some 2,500 people, including National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown, that he loved her.
However, Erica said to the
"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."
"He could quietly vote 'no' if that's what he believes is right," she continued. "But I want him to know that every word he utters hurts his own blood."
announced that Erica would help them lead a march and rally August 7 in direct response to the event organized by her grandfather May 15. The action will call attention not only to marriage equality, which may have received a vote by then, but also to problems including youth homelessness and the HIV epidemic that disproportionately challenge the Bronx LGBT population.
Erica decided to speak out as the New York State Catholic Conference warned that the state senator, a Pentecostal minister and ally in their fight against marriage equality, had been subjected to "hate speech" and "death threats" for his beliefs. Specifically, Catholic Conference executive director Richard Barnes posted a
Friday that took aim at an upcoming
gay erotica contest
"And this is all known to the press and in the halls of the Capitol. So where is the outrage in the media?" wrote Barnes. "Where is the cry for tolerance and justice for Rev. Diaz against these hate purveyors? The answer, sadly, is that there is no outcry. Are they saving it for after something truly awful happens to this good man? Until the hate that is being incited boils over into violent behavior?"