As 40,000 AIDS Walkers went through a misty Central Park yesterday State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. scored something of a PR win at his anti-marriage equality march in the Bronx. Though his out-and-proud granddaughter Erica Diaz was on the scene for her own counter-protest, she eventually joined her grandfather for a photo-op, allowing him to call out to an approving crowd: “This is my granddaughter. I love her. I love her. I love her. I respect her decisions. She does what she wants. If you think that in our family, there is hatred, and there is no love, you are wrong. Because I love my granddaughter.” Of course, if his granddaughter married another woman, Diaz said, "I would not go to the wedding."
On Saturday night, a press release made the rounds saying that Erica Diaz, a 22-year-old Bronx resident and former Navy officer in a long-term relationship with another woman, would be speaking in support of marriage equality following the rally. Instead the younger Diaz ended up speaking for a small crowd of young latinas, before the rally and when Ruben Diaz and his supporters (sample slogan: "Gay Marriage Is Against the Word of God") made it in front of the Bronx courthouse, Erica Diaz and her supporters initially chose to "shout rejoinders at the crowd" but were quickly drowned out.
So then Erica Diaz made an interesting, and arguably misguided, decision. She walked over and, "after a brief negotiation," joined her grandfather for an embrace. “It was important,” she told the Times of her decision to go onstage. “I wanted him to know that I’m here, and that as long as I am alive, I’m going to stand up for what is right.”
Emotionally, we can see what the younger Diaz was thinking when she walked over, but pragmatically her gesture seems to us like a bad PR move for the marriage-equality side she is trying to support. As Joe.My.God. points out while "The crowd went wild" when Erica joined the stage those "in the press area cringed at this entire scene, which we all agreed was a PR win for the haters."
By posing for photographs with his lesbian granddaughter at his anti-marriage-equality rally Diaz, who also has two gay brothers, was able to create photographic evidence that he indeed "loves the sinner, hates the sin." Yes, family is a complicated thing, especially when you mix in politics and sex, but with voters pretty evenly split on the issue of marriage equality in a recent poll, this is probably not the time to be giving the other side an easy PR win.