Gay politician to face anti-LGBT lawmaker Ruben Diaz in Congress race

Chris Cooper: New York City Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. will face off against Ritchie Torres

Gay, black New York councilman Ritchie Torres has announced he will run for Congress, facing off against anti-LGBT politician Ruben Diaz Sr.

Torres, who previously made history as the first out LGBT+ person to represent the Bronx on New York City Council, on Monday (July 15) announced a bid for an open seat in the US House of Representatives.

The candidate’s run is historic, as none of the 10 out LGBT+ lawmakers who currently sit in the House of Representatives are black.

Ritchie Torres to face anti-LGBT candidate Ruben Diaz Sr

The out lawmaker’s primary rival, fellow city council member Ruben Diaz Sr, has a lengthy anti-LGBT record.

Diaz was one of the most prominent opponents of equal marriage in the state, despite his own granddaughter being a lesbian.

This primary presents a stark choice between an LGBT trailblazer and a vicious homophobe.

He claimed earlier this year that New York City is “controlled by the homosexual community,” and has faced calls to resign over his attacks on gay city council speaker Corey Johnson.

Sean Meloy of LGBTQ Victory Fund, which backs diverse LGBT+ candidates in races across the country, told The New York Times: “Someone like Ruben Diaz winning that seat would be a minus… It would be like losing a seat for equality.”

Ritchie Torres is running for New York City Council

Ritchie Torres is running for New York City Council

In his campaign launch video, Torres said: “This 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.”

Candidate vows to ‘stand up for the Bronx’

He added: “I want my neighbours to say in the Bronx, ‘there’s no one who fights harder for us in Washington DC.’

“I’m not a miracle worker but I’m a fighter, and I’m gonna fight my heart out to ensure that the Bronx gets its fair

“And as the Bronx goes, so goes the country.”

He added: “Should I have the honour of serving, I’ll fight for quality health care and housing, schools and jobs. I’ll stand up for immigrants, seniors, and youth.

“I’ll fight everyday to protect our neighborhoods from gun violence and make the Bronx a safe, decent, affordable place to live.

“My motto in life is simple: ‘If you do nothing, nothing will change’. We can build a better Bronx, but we have to do it together.”