NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City Council on Tuesday took the first steps in disciplining one of their own after Reverend Ruben Diaz Senior (D-18th) made an inflammatory remark about the gay community.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the outspoken politician could be censured, stripped of his committee assignments, or even expelled from the council after saying the legislative body is “controlled by the homosexual community” last week.
Diaz Sr. is known for two things; his trademark cowboy hat and his penchant for politically incorrect comments that have lead many to claim a dunce’s cap would be more fitting.
“I live with my belief, this is my belief,” the Pentecostal minister said in 2012 while raising a bible in defense after getting in trouble for comparing abortion to the Holocaust. In a newsletter, Diaz Sr. said “Hitler was pro-choice, he chose to send the Jews to Auschwitz.”
His latest comment could cost him his job, after he made his derogatory remarks last week in a Spanish-language radio interview.
Angry council members demanded an apology, and when he refused called him homophobic and sought his resignation.
Diaz Sr., who has long opposed same-sex marriage, dug in his spurs, tweeting “What’s homophobic about saying that the gay community controls the nyc city council ? I’m giving them credit for the power and influence they have.”
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-26th), actress Cynthia Nixon, and other members of the gay community have jointed in to demand his ouster.
“We are long past the time of apologies or small measures,” Van Bramer said. “This body should vote to expel Ruben Diaz Sr.”
The council’s Committee on Standards and Ethics took the first steps towards taking action, voting Tuesday to open an investigation into Diaz Sr. for “disorderly conduct.”
Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who is gay, said it will be up to the entire council to decide the appropriate punishment.
“My personal opinion is that he should resign from the council,” Johnson said. “If he refuses… there should be very significant discipline.”
Diaz Sr. remained quiet and out of sight on Tuesday, claiming he plans on having a press conference on Thursday at City Hall.
It’s not clear how long the council investigation will take, but even before a punishment is meted Diaz Sr. could be stripped of his committee assignments and chairmanship of the for-hire vehicle committee.