New York Senator Ruben Diaz has called
Governor David Paterson's Thursday announcement that he would
re-introduce a gay marriage bill “desperate.”
“He's desperate,” Diaz, a Democrat,
said Thursday during a meeting of the New York Hispanic Clergy
Organization. “I don't blame him because he's desperate. He's
trying to bring up his poll numbers.”
Diaz, who represents the Bronx in the
Senate and is an evangelical minister, heads the
politically-influential religious group.
gay marriage a civil rights issue, Paterson, a Democrat, said at a
Thursday morning press conference that he would re-introduce a gay
marriage bill in the General Assembly. It is the same bill
Assembly members approved and Republican Senate leaders blocked in
2007. Despite newly-elected Democratic leadership in the Senate, gay
marriage supporters concede they lack the votes to win passage.
Paterson's approval ratings have
skidded below 20 percent in recent weeks and Diaz is not alone in
questioning the governor's motives behind reviving the issue at this
moment, just weeks after Iowa and Vermont legalized marriage for gay
and lesbian couples.
The state's most vocal opponent on gay
marriage demanded Paterson not run for re-election, saying he should
step aside and let New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo take his
place. He predicted big gains for the Republican Party otherwise.
Cuomo also happens to agree with Diaz in opposing gay marriage.
Diaz also told reporters that a May
rally of Latino churchgoers would debunk public opinion polls showing
increasing support for gay marriage in the state. And added that the
governor's timing on the issue was disrespectful to Catholics who had
just installed Timothy Dolan as head of the Catholic Archdiocese of
New York Wednesday.
“He's challenged the Christian
movement,” Diaz said. “He's challenged the Christian believers.
He's challenged the people that believe in the Bible. We are
accepting the challenge.”
But on Tuesday, the day before his
installation, Dolan told reporters that he would fight gay marriage.
“You can bet I will be active and
present and, I hope, articulate in this position,” Dolan said.
“The topic you raise [gay marriage] – other topics that are
controversial, that the church has a message to give – yeah, you'll
find that I don't shy away from those things and I wouldn't sidestep