Ruben Diaz, Sr. on Party Loyalty

Before this weekend’s Somos el Futuro conference in Puerto Rico, I chatted with Democratic State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. of the Bronx, who is angry that people are questioning his political loyalties.

Diaz is among the Democratic State Senators who has voiced his opposition to same-sex marriage, and to his party’s leader, Malcolm Smith, because Smith may be in a position to support it. 

“I don’t know why it is that if you don’t support gay marriage, that you are not a Democrat,” said Diaz, a Pentecostal minister. He denied his interest in joining the Republican Party– many of whose members also share his view on this issue. “The only thing I’m saying is, ‘I’m not supporting gay marriage.’”

Diaz was part of the “group of four” Democratic State Senators who were threatening to vote with Republicans, destroying their party’s new majority. But Diaz backed off the idea late last week, and over the weekend, State Senator-elect Hiram Monserrate defected, and voiced his support for the Democratic leader.

I our conversation, Diaz tried to paint himself as an independent, principled Democrat, not unlike Democratic State Senate Leader, Malcolm Smith, who Diaz remembered breaking with the party during the 2005 mayoral election.

“They didn’t call Malcolm Smith a Republican when he crossed Freddy Ferrer and endorsed Michael Bloomberg for re-election,” Diaz said.

UPDATE: Diaz is out with a statement saying he and his independent colleagues will decide who to support after meeting with Smith tomorrow in Albany. Diaz also asks, “where is it written that if you do not support gay marriage you are not a good Democrat? “

Ruben Diaz, Sr. on Party Loyalty