This week New York Governor David Paterson attended a gay pride rally and lashed out at religious leaders for opposing gay "marriage" saying they were "motivated by a five letter word: guilt." Catholic supporters of traditional marriage responded by calling the governor’s remarks "confusing, offensive, and just plain mistaken."
Paterson, whose approval ratings have plummeted to all-time lows, has recently deflected attention from the poor state of the economy in New York and begun to publicly push for same-sex "marriage" in the state.
"Where were these leaders of faith when college students of gay and lesbian orientation were beaten and often brutalized for expressing their feelings for each other?" he asked during a speech at the "LGBT Equality Justice Day" event.
The New York governor said that since "most of the religious leaders that I hear speaking out now did not do it at the time. Had they done so I think they would have better moral standing to speak at this moment on this legislation even though I disagree with them."
According to Paterson, many religious opponents are suffering from a "five-letter word: guilt."
He further went on to ask why religious leaders didn’t speak out in protection of homosexuals in the past, saying that they were silent when gays were "collectively blamed" for the expansion of HIV in the early 1980s.
Dennis Poust, the Director of Communication for the New York Catholic Conference, said that he thought Paterson’s comments were directed at the Catholic Church because the Church has clearly been the "most outspoken advocate in favor of preserving marriage."
Poust said Paterson’s remarks were "confusing, offensive, and just plain mistaken."
Contrary to the governor's claim that opponents of same-sex "marriage" were silent in the 1980s, Poust said that the Catholic Church in New York was "one of the first responders" to the AIDS crisis. "We’ll hold our record up against anyone’s when it comes to supporting the dignity of all people, including homosexual men and women" he said.
"The governor in his remarks, that was the most offensive thing, was the idea that we somehow didn’t do anything for people with AIDS," Poust said.
The Church was the first to react in the early ‘80s to the HIV crises, by establishing clinics and care facilities for people suffering from the "death sentence," he emphasized.
Then Archbishop of New York, Cardinal John O’Connor "would quietly volunteer in the evenings, late at night, when the city was asleep; he would be changing bed pans and ministering to people dying of AIDS. They didn’t have the medication back then, it was a death sentence, and it was a scary time, and the Cardinal led the way at the time, making it very clear that each and every person was a child of God," Poust recounted.
Other services and programs were established to care for homosexuals suffering from HIV and AIDS by the Missionaries of Charity and Catholic Charities to care for children and homeless people affected by the spread of the disease, "without questions [about] how it was transmitted."
At the time, recalled Poust, Governor Mario Cuomo "praised the Church for really being the leader in the entire state of serving those with this deadly disease."
The Church has consistently spoken out against the abuse of all people, including those of sexual orientation because those acts are "shameful" and "repugnant to everyone," Poust maintained.
"That’s what made the remarks so confusing," explained the New York Catholic Conference spokesman. "It’s impossible that he wouldn’t know what the Church has done and what the Church has said regarding the dignity of every human person."
Responding to Paterson’s claim that the Church is being motivated by guilt, Poust said, "The remarks are confusing to everyone. No one seemed to know what he meant. We certainly haven’t been motivated by any guilt feelings; we have no guilt over our position. Our position is based upon what’s best for society."
The Catholic Church, Poust said, has "always spoken for everyone’s rights: from the child in the womb, to the prisoner on death row, to the homosexual person, to the victim of AIDS, to the elderly. We don’t question the motivations" of the proponents of gay marriage, but offered that traditional marriage is a fundamental reality, and establishing gay marriage is not how you address problems with inheritance rights, or visitation rights, or any of the other rights that are so often cited and named for same-sex marriage."
Poust also said that the Church’s argument against gay "marriage" can also be a "secular one" because every study that he has seen supports the fact that children do better in school, live healthier lives, and become better contributors to society when raised by "both a mother and a father in the same household."
According to Poust, society is seeing the results of "causal divorce" from the '70s and the "out of wedlock children" of the '80s, as the children of this generation now have "all these [psychological] problems" and warned that if gay "marriage" is passed, we will see a "further devaluation of the traditional family" and the result will be a "disaster."