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Former and Current NY Governors Blast Conservative Rabbi for Blaming Hurricane Sandy on Gay Marriage: AUDIO

Leter

Last week, Right Wing Watch reported on Rabbi Noson Leiter of Torah Jews for Decency, who blamed Hurricane Sandy on gay marriage in an October 30 radio interview:

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.”

Former NY Governor George Pataki blasted the rabbi's remarks over the weekend:

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.

Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo piled on:

"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."

Listen to Leiter, AFTER THE JUMP...

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New York City Subways At 80% Operation, Says MTA

FTrainMany feared it would be a few weeks before inter-borough travel would be restored in New York City post-Sandy, but we received some good news today.

Even though it may be a while before things get back to normal, Governor Cuomo and the MTA today announced some revived service, bringing operation up to about 80%.

From the NYDN:

Trains started picking up passengers again Saturday morning along the entire 4,5,6 and 7 lines, officials said. Full service will return later Saturday to the D, F, J and M lines, officials said.

The A train will run from 168 St. to Lefferts Blvd. beginning Monday but service to the Rockaways will not return for at least a month because the train bridge over Jamaica Bay was severely damaged.

Those of you in Williamsburg will still have to wait, as well, for the 14th Street L line remains flooded.


Free, Limited Subway Service For NYC Today

SubwayIt may still be weeks before New York City's subway tunnels damaged by Hurricane Sandy are completely restored, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced that select lines, all above 34th street, are back in operation and free for the next few days.

The MTA offers the details:

The free service began just after midnight Thursday and will last until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, and will allow for free rides on the NYC Subway and Bus network, Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North Railroad.  Free travel will also be available on Access-a-Ride.
 
“The gridlock we experienced yesterday shows that the New York metropolitan region is in a transportation emergency,” Governor Cuomo said. “To get people out of their cars and onto mass transit, I immediately authorized the MTA to suspend transit fares through the end of the work week.”

The fare free days coincide with the restoration of limited subway service set for this morning along segments of roughly half of the system's 26 lines.  With no electricity to power the third rail or to operate signals south of 36th Street, there will be no service between 34th St in Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn. Service will operate from the Bronx, Queens and Upper Manhattan to Midtown and from Queens and parts of Brooklyn to Downtown Brooklyn. 

Shuttle Buses will operate from Jay St-MetroTech, Atlantic Ave-Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn and Hewes St in Williamsburg to 57th St & Lexington Ave via 3rd Ave.

Or there's always walking, which actually doesn't take that long and gives you a great view of the city.

[via Joe]


New York's Highest Court Rejects Evangelical Group's Challenge to State's Marriage Equality Law

The NY Daily News reports:

CuomoNew York's top court today refused to hear an appeal challenging the state's gay marriage law. Without explanation, the Court of Appeals denied a request to appeal by New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, an evangelical group.

....

The group argued that the Senate Republican majority violated the state open meetings law by meeting behind closed doors, including with Mayor Bloomberg, to discuss the issue.

A state appellate court in July unanimously reversed a lower court ruling and dismissed the case. Because the decision was unanimous, New Yorkers For Constitutional Freedoms needed permission from the state's top court to continue its appeal, a request that was denied today.

Governor Andrew Cuomo hailed the decision:

Today, the New York State Court of Appeals, the highest court in the State, denied leave to appeal the validity of the Marriage Equality Act, which affords same-sex couples in this State the right to marry. New York State has served as a beacon for progressive ideals and this statute is a clear reminder of what this State stands for: equality and justice for all. With the Court’s decision, same-sex couples no longer have to worry that their right to marry could be legally challenged in this State. The freedom to marry in this State is secure for generations to come.


Cuomo and Bloomberg Back Embattled Pro-Gay GOP Incumbents

CuomomarriageNew York State Senators Stephen M. Saland and Roy J. McDonald, two of the four Republicans to vote for marriage equality in the Empire State, are currently in political limbo.

After last week's primary vote, both men are awaiting recounts to see if they've actually survived conservative efforts to oust them for their pro-equality politics. And with the ballots being reexamined starting today, the men are getting some vocal support from two big NY names.

First, Gov. Andrew Cuomo this morning threw his weight behind the embattled senators.

Saying their votes for "an act of political courage" that bucked their party's dominant thinking, Cuomo pointed out that lawmakers are not always meant to agree with their constituents; they're meant to do what's right, a point that's so often lost in the political back-and-forth.

“I don’t believe we elect officials to always agree with us,” Cuomo remarked, according to the New York Times. “We elect officials to use their best judgment and to be people of character and integrity, and I think this vote, which was a difficult vote, showed character and integrity. I hope it works out for both gentlemen. They’re in the middle of recounts now, and I hope it works out — I hope they get re-elected."

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg also came out for Saland and McDonald. "No matter what happens in the election, they’re going to have the satisfaction of knowing for the rest of their life they stood up and voted their conscience, and they did it in a world where that’s harder to do today maybe than it’s been in a long time," said Bloomberg, who gave $10,300 of his billions to each of three pro-equality state senators who ran for reelection. Mark Grisanti won by a landslide and the fourth supportive senator, James Alesi, retired.


Four Arrested as LGBT Groups Protest Lack of Funding for LGBT Homeless Youth in NY Governor's Budget

Qr1

Four activists from the group Queer Rising — Natasha Dillon, Jake Goodman, Melissa Kleckner and Ted McGuire — were peacefully arrested yesterday afternoon following a protest by the group in front of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's Manhattan office. At the demonstration, group members stood beside cardboard boxes that featured the names, ages and hobbies of anonymous LGBTQ youth and chanted for action from Cuomo.

Writes the group in a release to Towleroad:

In October 2011, approximately 80 LGBT organizations and community leaders endorsed the Campaign for Youth Shelter and sent Governor Cuomo a letter calling for "an additional $3-million per year in funding for the creation of 100 youth shelter beds per year."  Cuomo never publicly acknowledged the letter.

Hours after New York State Governor Cuomo released his 2012 budget proposal — which neglected to add a single penny of additional funding to provide adequate shelter for runaway and homeless youth — outraged members of the LGBT community gathered to protest outside his Manhattan office.  Activist group, Queer Rising, organized the demonstration.  Approximately two-dozen activists participated in the protest resulting in four arrests.

Every night in New York City, approximately 3,800 youth are without stable shelter, but the state and city only provide funding for fewer than 200 beds for these youth.  Up to 40% of the homeless youth identify as being LGBT. Last year, Governor Cuomo slashed this budget by 50%.

Qr2

SicilianoIn related news, Carl Siciliano, Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center, the largest LGBT homeless shelter and resource center in New York, released the following statement regarding Cuomo's budget:

"Governor Cuomo's budget proposal is bad news for the 1600 homeless LGBT youth stranded on the streets of New York each night without access to a shelter bed. These youth, who suffer horribly and whose lives are in danger, deserve the attention and concern of their governor no less than the other members of our community.  With marriage equality expected to bring in over 100 million dollars in additional economic activity and tax revenue for the state, the LGBT community has a moral obligation to demand that our tax dollars protect the most vulnerable and desperate members of our community."

The Ali Forney Center was not involved in Queer Rising's action at the governor's office.


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