Sen. Diaz's Gay Granddaughter Takes Fight Public

Sunday, Jun 5, 2011  |  Updated 3:24 PM EDT
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Erica Diaz shows her support for gay marriage in New York State at an anti-gay marriage rally in May led by her grandfather, Bronx Senator Ruben Diaz.

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The gay granddaughter of one of the state Senate's most vocal same-sex marriage opponents is speaking out about the debate that has caused a rift in her family.

The New York Post published Sunday Erica Diaz's first-person account of the drama that has unfolded in her family as a result of her grandfather's anti-gay marriage stance.

Diaz, 22, said she has been following Sen. Ruben Diaz's statements in the media regarding gay individuals and same-sex marriage, and told the Post that she's "finally conjured the courage to stand up for what is right."

Diaz said she was "shattered" when her grandfather went on a Spanish radio station in April and remained silent when another priest said, "Gay people are worthy of death."

The lesbian mother of two, who has been in a relationship with her girlfriend for two and a half years, said she chose to remain closeted in her teenage years out of "respect" to her father's side of the family, in which Ruben Diaz was the reverend patriarch.

But now, she said, "this fight is personal."

"My family deserves the same benefits as others," Diaz said. "Naomi -- whom I would like to marry -- should be able to do things that straight married people take for granted, like make a decision for me if I'm sick.

"And my grandfather has witnessed our love," she said. "At Christmas he lovingly played with our children."

"But as he continued to ratchet up his rhetoric, something in me snapped," Diaz said.

Diaz went on to describe her decision to show up at an anti-gay marriage rally her grandfather organized at the Bronx County Courthouse last month, so that "he could face a person he loved, a person who was gay, as he spoke against us."

Sen. Diaz ended up bringing Erica to the podium to tell the crowd he loved his granddaughter, and even called her afterward to say he was proud of her for "respectfully speaking up for what you believe in."

But, Diaz told the Post, "you cannot tell someone that you love them and stay silent when people call for their death. 'Love' is empty when you say someone's life isn't natural."

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