One of the staunchest opponents to same-sex marriage is a Bronx state senator with two gay brothers, a gay grandchild, and a gay chief counsel. Democrat Ruben Diaz, Sr., a Pentecostal minister, has been a die hard foe of any bill that would legalize gay marriage in New York State, despite his supposedly convivial relationship with many homosexuals. "I love them. I love them," says Díaz, who grew up one of 17 children in Puerto Rico. "But I don’t believe in what they are doing."

With so many gays in his life, he asks the Times, "How could I be a homophobe?" And indeed, his openly gay chief counsel, Christopher R. Lynn, describes Diaz as "my brother. [But] he said to me, 'For me to accept this, I have to turn my whole value system upside down.'" Yet it wouldn't be the first time Diaz turned his "system" upside down. In 1965 he was a drug addict who got busted for heroin and marijuana possession. Then he got religion, became a pastor, a community organizer, and ultimately a gay marriage-blocking senator.

It's looking increasingly likely that Diaz will get his way and a bill to legalize same-sex marriage will not come to the senate floor for a vote. In his Times interview, Diaz said, "The people of the nation don’t want gay marriage. They didn’t want it in California; they didn’t want it in Maine. And the people of upstate New York, after what happened to the candidate in the 23rd Congressional District, they sent a message they don’t want gay marriage. Forget about it. People don’t want it."

Try telling that to openly gay City Council speaker Christine Quinn, who yesterday held back tears during an emotional press conference, telling reporters, "If the bill is not voted on and passed, a week after a referendum passed in Maine that took rights away from the residents, if seven days after that, the New York state Senate stands up and says, 'All New York families are equal,' what a message that sends about what we believe as a state...This is literally a moment when people can stand up and say that everybody's family matters, that everybody's home is a blessed place and that everybody has the same rights. Tomorrow is really about bringing hope to fruition. It's about a moment where you lift people up or you drag people down. So I ask the state Senate to have the courage of its convictions and to act."