Gay councilman Ritchie Torres in his campaign video | Picture: Screengrab (YouTube)
A gay Bronx councillor has announced his bid for a House of Representatives seat, but his foe is a man who doesn’t believe in marriage equality.
Ritchie Torres today (15 July) announced his bid for the House seat in a video posted to YouTube.
The 31-year-old Democrat made history as the first openly gay man to hold elected office in the New York City borough earlier this year.
The race for the seat begins
Representative José Serrano, the longest serving Hispanic congressman in the country, is retiring because he has Parkinson’s disease.
In vacating the seat, it commences the race between Torres and Rubén Díaz Sr.
Díaz, a city councillor and Pentecostal minister, has a decades-long track record of making homophobic remarks.
The 76-year-old in 1994 said that the Gay Games coming to New York would help spread AIDS.
In addition, it would teach young people that ‘homosexuality is ok, that it is not immoral or sinful behavior.’
Moreover, as a state senator, he has vocally opposed marriage equality.
He opposed it at the time to such an extent that he once held a rally against the legislation that would have authorized it while his lesbian granddaughter held a counter protest across the street.
But Díaz’s history does not end there.
He has referred to himself as the ‘opposite’ or representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He’s also said that his views on homosexuality are based on religion.
A view that, according to the councilman, the voters in the 15th Congressional District accept.
‘My family is full of gays,’ he said. ‘I don’t believe in gay marriage but that doesn’t mean I hate people.’
‘It would be like losing a seat for equality’
‘What makes this race so important is that it’s shaping up to be a contest between Ritchie Torres and Rubén Díaz, someone who has demonized the LGBTQ community throughout his career and shown a profound lack of respect,’ the Democrat from Rhode Island said.
Moreover, Sean Meloy, senior political director at the Victory Fund, a political action committee that supports queer candidates, has endorsed Torres.
‘Someone like Rubén Díaz winning that seat would be a minus,’ he said.
‘It would be like losing a seat for equality.’