A few days ago, Rabbi Noson Leiter of Torah Jews for Decency said Hurricane Sandy brought a “divine justice” upon New York State as retribution for legalizing same sex marriage. To prove his point Rabbi Leiter pointed to the storm damage in Lower Manhattan, which he referred to as “one of the national centers for homosexuality,” to make his point. In a statement released this afternoon, Governor Andrew Cuomo, who led the push for New York’s gay marriage legislation last year, took issue with the remark.
“The comments made by Rabbi Noson Leiter that sought to link the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy to our state’s embrace of marriage equality are as offensive as they are ignorant,” Mr. Cuomo said. “This catastrophic storm claimed the lives of more than forty New Yorkers. This kind of hateful rhetoric has no place in our public discourse, and is particularly distasteful in times of tragedy.”
Governor Cuomo went on to demand an apology from the rabbi.
“Our state is proud to offer equal rights to all our citizens, and we will never tolerate the use of a tragedy like Hurricane Sandy to promote a divisive and bigoted agenda,” he said. “I call on Rabbi Leiter to apologize immediately for his hurtful comments.”
Rabbi Leiter made his controversial comment in support of Neil Di Carlo’s campaign for State Senate on the Conservative Party line. Mr. Di Carlo is running against Republican incumbent Steve Saland, who provided one of the four GOP votes for the Marriage Equality Act in 2011 and subsequently received a cross-party endorsement from Mr. Cuomo.
Republican former Governor George Pataki has called on Mr. Di Carlo to condemn the rabbi’s controversial claim. Thus far, Mr. DiCarlo has declined.