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Committee chaired by Ruben Diaz Sr. may be dissolved: Sources

Calls are mounting for the Bronx lawmaker to resign over homophobic remarks.

Councilman Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr. has not yet

Councilman Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr. has not yet apologized for homophobic comments. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

The City Council’s Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections is slated to take up a resolution that would dissolve a committee, which sources have identified as being chaired by embattled City Councilman Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr.

The committee is set to hold a hearing Wednesday afternoon about a resolution that would involve “dissolving a Standing Committee and transferring its jurisdiction,” according to the Council Calendar. Sources with knowledge of the resolution identified the standing committee as the Committee on For-Hire Vehicles, which is chaired by Diaz Sr. That resolution would need to be approved by the full Council, which is slated to meet later Wednesday. If passed, the move would likely transfer the committee's work to the Transportation Committee, according to one of the sources. 

Elected officials and LGBTQ advocacy groups have been calling on the 75-year-old Bronx elected to resign after he told a Spanish radio show that the Council is “controlled by the homosexual community,” and has repeatedly stood by his statements.

The resolution came after the Council’s Ethics Committee went into an executive session, citing plans to discuss confidential personal issues.

Earlier Tuesday morning, City Councilmen Jimmy Van Bramer and Danny Dromm, who are both part of the LGBT Caucus, along with five Council colleagues pressed Diaz Sr. to step down during a news conference outside City Hall with LGBTQ advocates.

In addition to refusing to apologize for his comments to the Spanish-language “El Deshaogo” show, Diaz Sr. doubled down, including by telling the New York Post that the LGBTQ community controls state politics as well.

Van Bramer said these statements stoked fear and attempted to “put us in our place.”

“When Councilman Diaz says we control the entire City Council, and now the entire state's political structure, he is treading in homophobic tropes,” Van Bramer said. “We must speak up and fight back because words have consequences.” 

Diaz, who declined to comment to amNewYork about Tuesday's rally, has a history of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and policies, including voting against the state's Marriage Equality Act in 2011. Dromm, who once wrote a letter in the 1990s to the Civilian Complaint Review Board condemning Diaz for homophobic comments, said Diaz's stance has been tolerated for too long. 

“Imagine as a Council member coming in every day and facing a colleague who has these type of negative opinions of his other colleagues,” Dromm said, while standing behind six of his fellow Council members. “With this 25-year history, it's time to say he must resign.”

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called for Diaz to resign Monday and Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters Tuesday that the councilman should step down, if he does not apologize.

“He has to apologize,” de Blasio said. “That is the only chance to continue to serve as a public servant.”

When asked why some Council members are just beginning to oppose Diaz despite years of anti-LGBTQ comments and positions, Van Bramer said he has never supported Diaz and that he objected to Diaz's appointment as chair of the Committee on For-Hire Vehicles.

“He should have never been in the City Council,” Van Bramer said. 

Johnson told reporters Monday and Tuesday that he regretted giving him that chairmanship.

“I tried to give everyone a fresh start when I started as speaker. I asked everyone what their preferences were. And clearly a leopard doesn’t change its spots, and I should have recognized that,” Johnson said. 

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