New York City is expecting another interesting Congressional race as Rep. José Serrano, the longest-serving Hispanic member of Congress, retires due to illness. Vying for his upcoming open seat are Ritchie Torres, a 31-year-old Black gay man and Rubén Díaz Sr., a 76-year-old Pentecostal minister.
Díaz has spent the last 25 years since first becoming involved in politics in the 1990s fighting against LGBTQ rights, even though he’s a Democrat.
Torres is the first openly gay person to hold elected office in the Bronx borough as a councilman. He was first elected in November 2013. Díaz also serves as a councilman in the Bronx.
In 1994, Díaz said that the Gay Games coming to New York would help spread AIDS and teach young people that “homosexuality is O.K., that it is not immoral or sinful behavior.”
As a state senator, he vocally opposed gay marriage.
In February, Mr. Díaz, who was elected to the City Council in 2017, sparked calls for his resignation when he said the “homosexual community” controlled the City Council.
As a senator, Díaz filed a lawsuit to stop expansion of the Harvey Milk School for LGBTQ because it “discriminated” against heterosexual students.
In many ways, Torres couldn’t be farther away from Díaz. Torres is a progressive and a Bernie Sanders supporter who has made pushing for public housing one of his fighting points. The young politician alsointroduced legislation, ultimately passed by the council, aimed at Jared Kushner that closed loose regulation of construction permits.
“The primary presents a stark choice between a progressive new guard and a reactionary old guard; between an LGBT trailblazer and a vicious homophobe; between a new generation of leadership and more of the same,” Torres said in his first video announcing his campaign for the Congressional seat.
The primary will be in June 2020. Torres has until then to convince voters that he should take Serrano’s spot.