Marjorie Hill (GMHC) Responds to Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr.'s Anti-Gay March Plans

In response to Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr.'s plan to hold an anti-gay marriage march at the same time as the AIDS Walk, Marjorie Hill, the CEO of Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), has responded:

On the morning of Sunday, May 15, over 45,000 New Yorkers will descend upon Central Park to participate in the 26th annual AIDS Walk New York. The Walk not only raises money for GMHC and 40 other AIDS service organizations, there are also opportunities for people to access free HIV testing, receive educational materials about HIV prevention, and engage in conversation with families, friends and colleagues about the critical issues of HIV and AIDS. Sadly, in the mid-afternoon on the 15th, a march against same-sex marriage will be hosted by state Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. in the Bronx.

We are distressed that Senator Diaz would focus his attention on increasing homophobia which is a lethal driver of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. A recent study reported that gay couples who are affirmed in their relationships are less likely to place themselves at risk for HIV. Similar findings by other studies have shown that anti-gay bullying and other forms of homophobia can place lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals at higher risk for HIV. Research has also shown that same-sex marriage has disproportionately positive effects for gay and lesbian couples of color. From our work each day, we know that homophobia and stigma still affect people living with HIV/AIDS and can create barriers to accessing healthcare and support.

GMHC as an organization and AIDS Walk New York as a fundraiser promote social justice, equality and equal access for all. To show support for people affected by HIV/AIDS and solidarity for same-sex couples who will soon have the same human rights as heterosexual couples, New Yorkers are encouraged to join us and walk for AIDS Walk New York."

In addition to reaching out to the GMHC, we reached out to Senator Diaz, to give him a chance to clarify his recent convoluted, confusing press release on this issue. He has not responded.

*Disclaimer: The Voice is a media sponsor of the AIDS Walk.

sthrasher@villagevoice.com / @steven_thrasher

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