This post has been updated, 11/5/2012
Rabbi Noson Leiter of Torah Jews for Decency is blaming Hurricane Sandy on gays and lesbians, calling it “divine justice” for New York’s new marriage equality law. Torah Jews for Decency campaigned against marriage equality in New York and New Jersey, worked with Liberty Counsel and New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms in an unsuccessful lawsuit to overturn New York’s marriage law, and has joined with various other Religious Right groups on anti-gay campaigns.
Yesterday, Leiter appeared on Crosstalk, the flagship program of Vic Eliason’s Voice of Christian Youth America, alongside Neil DiCarlo, a candidate for New York State Senate, to discuss New York’s legalization of same-sex marriage.
Leiter asserted that the “the Great Flood in the time of Noah was triggered by the recognition of same-gender marriages,” adding that there are similar “messages in this particular storm for us.” “The Lord will not bring another flood to destroy the entire world but He 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,” he said. “We have to learn that the Lord does watch what we do and if we don’t shape up He will deliver divine justice.” Leiter also suggested that God flooded Lower Manhattan because it is “one of the national centers of homosexuality.”
Later in the program, Leiter argued that the “LGBT radical homosexualist movement” threatens the survival of society and religious freedom and will even increase child abuse by giving molesters a “license to victimize” children and even “a certain degree of diplomatic immunity.”
Eliason: Rabbi Leiter, you have been passionately involved in the fight for biblical, moral values, why?
Leiter: I think that’s what the Lord wants us to do and if we do not we face an existential threat. There is an issue of the survival of morality being necessary for the survival of society, and that’s not just an issue that’s specific to marriage. In addition there’s an issue of religious liberty. The LGBT radical homosexualist movement is really the Avant-guard of Bible-haters of all different types, not just limited to the left. The advance towards homosexual rights and so-called marriage is not predicated on getting rights, and just thereby stepping on the rights of Bible believers. The purpose is to bash Bible-believers using their so-called rights as a pretext do so and that’s why it is so critical to oppose them because they’re not after something that they think is theirs, they’re after us.
Leiter: There are so many things that people could point out about the negatives aspects of the homosexual lifestyle that is being touted as being this wonderful idea that the media doesn’t talk about. We’re talking about victimization that goes on under the rubric of protecting people’s rights; they’re not interested in protecting people’s rights, they’re interested in giving people a license to victimize, particularly to victimize children, and we pick up the pieces on some of that. We know how hard this is hitting society. The crisis of child molestation is not independent of the intentional proliferation of unfettered homosexuality, they are definitely connected, it doesn’t meant that every molester is homosexual but many of them are, there is a disproportionate number that are homosexual males. They are in some cases being given a certain degree of diplomatic immunity because of their favored status centered around a common vice. That’s something that no state has a right to do.
UPDATE: Gov. Andrew Cuomo condemned the remarks in a statement today:
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. 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.
Former Gov. George Pataki, a Republican, also took Leiter to task for his comments, while DiCarlo stood by the Rabbi:
Pataki called on fellow Republican Neil DiCarlo — who is running on the Conservative Party line for a state Senate seat from the Hudson Valley — to denounce the remarks of Rabbi Noson Leiter. DiCarlo opposes gay marriage, and the orthodox rabbi made the statements in support of his third-party candidacy.
“It’s simply incomprehensible that anyone could attribute the devastation and loss of life caused by Hurricane Sandy to divine retribution against the New York State legislature,” Pataki railed.
“It’s like blaming America’s belief in freedom for the attacks of Sept. 11,” Pataki added.
Pataki argued that because Leiter’s remarks were made in support of DiCarlo, the candidate “has a responsibility to repudiate them.”
Reached by phone, DiCarlo refused to take that step when asked repeatedly. He instead questioned Pataki’s motives.
“Ask Mr. Pataki why he endorsed my opponent, and why he is bringing this up two days before the election — and then I’ll answer your question,” DiCarlo said before hanging up.