Op-Ed: The Bronx deserves a progressive leader in Congress

There is a concerted nationwide progressive effort to thwart Ruben Diaz, Sr.’s bid for Congress ahead of the June 23 Democratic primary election.
Photo courtesy of the New York City Council/Emil Cohen

By Jacquelyn Marrero

Living in the South Bronx during one of the most uncertain times in modern history, I am certain about one thing – The Bronx deserves a leader in Congress who will prioritize and protect our access to vital health care. That person is not Ruben Diaz Sr., who is only committed to his anti-woman, anti-healthcare and anti-LGBTQ agenda.

For decades, Ruben Díaz Sr. has pushed dangerous, extremist rhetoric and policies that disqualify him to represent New York’s 15th Congressional District. Diaz Sr. showed just how wicked he is when he compared women who access safe, legal abortion to Hitler during the Holocaust.

Let me be clear: abortion is health care and health care is a fundamental human right. Planned Parenthood has been a high-quality, affordable health care provider for people in the South Bronx for more than 37 years. I am one of those people. As a Bronxite, former Planned Parenthood patient, and now advocate for sexual and reproductive health care, I have witnessed first-hand how Diaz Sr. has dehumanized people in this borough. His out-of-touch policies burden a community that is already being challenged by systemic biases, economic injustices, and health inequities.

Diaz Sr. is not only misogynistic, he is also homophobic. He peddles misinformation and anti-LGBTQ stigma. He does not believe Bronxites have the right to love whomever they want. In fact, Diaz Sr. was the lone Democratic state senator to vote against New York’s Marriage Equality Act. It’s not just that Díaz Sr. is out of step with the values of Bronxites, he doesn’t have our best interests or well-being at heart.

Latinx voters — who make up the majority of the 15th Congressional district — overwhelmingly support the right to access abortion. Latinx millennials are more likely to identify as LGBTQ than any other group and New York City has the largest LGBTQ population in the country with more than 750,000 residents. As time has passed, Díaz Sr. has never been more disconnected from the priorities of The Bronx.

On June 23rd, Bronx voters need to elect a leader who will fight for equality and their basic health care needs. That leader is anybody but Díaz Sr. Every other leading Democratic candidate has demonstrated support for protecting and expanding abortion access and LGBTQ rights, and would be far more qualified to represent us in Congress.

About the author: Jacquelyn Marrero is the director of media relations at Planned Parenthood of Greater New York and PPGNY Action Fund. She was raised in Mott Haven and currently resides in Port Morris.

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