Cuomo Knocks Rockland Rabbi for Sandy Comments

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday issued a strong statement condemning comments made on a radio show by a Rockland County rabbi, calling on him to apologize for linking Superstorm Sandy to New York’s legalization of same-sex marriage.

Rabbi Noson Leiter, who heads Rockland-based Torah Jews For Decency, was speaking out in favor of state Senate candidate Neil Di Carlo when he said: “The Lord … could punish particular areas with a flood, and if we look at the same-gender marriage recognition movement that’s occurring, that certainly is a message for us to learn.”

Cuomo responded with a statement Monday, calling Leiter’s comments “hateful rhetoric” that “has no place in our public discourse.”

“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,” 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. 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. I call on Rabbi Leiter to apologize immediately for his hurtful comments.”

Cuomo has endorsed the man Di Carlo is trying to unseat: Sen. Stephen Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, who was one of four Republicans to vote in favor of the same-sex marriage law last year.

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