Thursday, October 2, 2003

NEW YORK — City attorneys are expected today to seek dismissal of a lawsuit that would strip a high school for homosexuals of its public funding, arguing that there is no merit to the complaint.

The suit filed by state Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., a maverick Democrat from the Bronx, caused a furor when it was filed last summer shortly after news emerged that the cash-strapped city had allocated more than $3 million to fund the Harvey Milk High School.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg defended the all-homosexual school as “a good idea.”

Mr. Diaz is the city’s only conservative Democrat. A Pentecostal minister, he has a long history of taking on the homosexual community. Before he was forced off the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board in 1996, one homosexual activist threw a pitcher of water in his face during a public meeting.

The Village Voice recently called him “the city’s most homophobic politician.” But former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said Mr. Diaz’s views reflected “a couple of thousand years of moral theology.”

Nothing has deterred Mr. Diaz from speaking his mind on the subject of the homosexual agenda, which he sees as just one more aspect of a culture in decline. In the South Bronx’s 32nd Senatorial District, going against a liberal agenda bucks near-sacred political tradition.

“They have votes and money,” Mr. Diaz said in a recent interview in his storefront office. “That I am Hispanic has made me their worst enemy. The liberal cause and the homosexual cause are based on protecting minorities against discrimination, so they say, ‘We are fighting for you against the Republicans, the evil ones.’”

In 1995, he defended his opposition to homosexual activism by telling the New York Times: “If Jesse Jackson could use the clerical collar to promote abortion and homosexuality, I have the same right as a minister to promote what I believe.”

Rena Lindevalsen, a lawyer with the Liberty Counsel, a conservative nonprofit legal organization representing Mr. Diaz in the school lawsuit, said they would oppose a motion to dismiss the case in Manhattan Supreme Court and await the judge’s ruling.

Mr. Diaz’s suit charges that spending taxpayers’ money on the school violates a Board of Education regulation and a state law prohibiting segregation based on sexual orientation. It also challenges the city on constitutional grounds.

“All we’re heard is that this school is open to everybody, although if you look at the Web site, you’ll see it caters to the needs of lesbians, gays and transgender student,” said Mrs. Lindevalsen.

The Harvey Milk School’s Internet site,, is long on pictures of student activities, such as working after school to make safe-sex posters, but is short on specifics about what is actually taught. Nevertheless, the school insists it is open to students of all sexual persuasion, a theme echoed by its defenders.

Alan Van Capelle, executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda, a homosexual civil rights group, said the suit is “baseless” and said homosexual students are harassed and subject to violence in the school system.

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