In an unusual move for a Democrat, New
York state Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. has praised Obama's controversial pick of
Rev. Rick Warren to give the invocation prayer at his inauguration.
Senator Diaz of the Bronx is a member
of the so called Gang of Three. He, along with Senator-elect Pedro
Espada Jr. and Senator Carl Krugen of Brooklyn, sought to trade their
support of Malcolm A. Smith as Senate leader for a promise to kill a
gay marriage bill in the chamber. An initial New York Daily News
story suggested Diaz had succeeded, but the deal, brokered by New
York Governor David A Paterson, never materialized.
Infuriated gay activists flooded Diaz's
office with angry emails, telephone calls and letters in the days
that followed the reporting.
“By rejecting the call to dis-invite
Reverend Warren and by welcoming him to deliver the inauguration
ceremony's invocation in Washington, D.C., Barack Obama has sent a
message of inclusion,” Diaz said in a statement.
Warren's anti-gay biography
was quickly compiled and posted by gay blogs and left media starting
December 17, the day his selection was announced. That record
includes: The banning of gays and lesbians from membership in his
Southern California Saddleback megachurch, supporting the
controversial ex-gay movement that claims gays can be “cured”
through prayer, and, most importantly, supporting the passage of
Proposition 8 – the California constitutional amendment banning gay
marriage that has sparked national, even international, protests.
Warren's support for the measure
included likening gay marriage to an incestuous relationship,
pedophilia and even polygamy. In a recent video released Sunday,
however, Warren has distanced himself from those homophobic
statements, saying “I love gays.”
But Diaz praised Warren for his strong
opposition to gay relationships and abortion.
“To some people, if you oppose
homosexual marriage and abortion, you are not a Democrat and you are
certainly not to be invited to deliver an inaugural invocation,” he
Such statements fan the rumors that
Diaz is unhappy with the Democratic Party and might possibly bolt to
the Republicans, who have enshrined anti-gay and anti-choice language
in their Party platform.
Joe Solmonese, president of Human
Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay and lesbian gay rights
advocate, called the Warren choice “disrespectful” of gays, while
openly gay Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank (Democrat) said
the pick was a mistake.