ALBANY, NY, January 21, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In an open letter to the New York Post Tuesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office accused the paper of “distorting” his words in a headline that claimed: “Gov. Cuomo to Conservatives: Leave NY!”
The story in question covered remarks Cuomo made in an interview with WCNY Radio, in which he said of Republicans, “They're searching to define their soul, that's what's going on. Is the Republican Party in this state a moderate party or is it an extreme conservative party?” Cuomo then defined “extreme conservatives” as “right-to-life, pro-assault weapon, anti-gay,” and said such people “have no place in the state of New York, because that's not who New Yorkers are.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at press conference at pride parade on June 26, 2011 in New York City, NY.
Cuomo’s statements provoked a strong backlash from pro-life activists and other conservatives, who took offense at Cuomo’s suggestion that they deserve banishment for their views. But Cuomo says the remarks were taken out of context, and that he was only trying to say that a strong conservative candidate “cannot win statewide” in New York, not that he didn’t think individual New Yorkers should hold conservative views.
As evidence for their assertion, Cuomo’s office alleged that during the interview, the governor said “‘it is fine’ to be anti-gun control, and anti-choice” and that he “respects both positions.” But the transcript provided in the letter seems to strike a markedly more combative tone, with the governor telling WCNY, “if you are right to life, that is your opinion and that’s your religious belief, that is fine but that is not the opinion of this state, which 70% are pro-choice in this state.”
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Michael Long, chairman of the New York Conservative Party, told the Buffalo News he disagrees that New Yorkers have a lockstep ideology.
“I guess the governor believes if you don’t believe the way he does, there’s not room in what he thinks is his state,” Long said. “I believe this state is made up of men and women from Niagara Falls to Montauk Point who have all sorts of views, some who believe in the Second Amendment, some who believe in traditional marriage, some who believe government, especially in New York State, spends too much money and taxes are too high.”
“The Governor might as well have hung a 54,000 square-mile ‘Keep Out!’ sign across the state border to anyone with mainstream views on marriage, life, and the Second Amendment,” Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said in an e-mail to supporters. “Who's really extreme? The Americans who believe that killing children in the womb is wrong? The people trying to operate businesses according to their faith? Or the men and women who want to defend their families?”
Added Perkins, “No, the extreme ones are the liberals like Governor Cuomo, who are so threatened by the diversity they say they support that they can't even coexist with people who disagree! Are things so desperate in the Democratic Party that the only way to beat conservatives is to banish them?”
“Cuomo is so anti-life that he doesn't even think people who love life should be able to exist in his state,” Rebecca Kiessling of Save the 1 told LifeSiteNews (LSN).
Abby Johnson, a Texas-based former Planned Parenthood director who now runs a pro-life group dedicated to helping abortion workers leave the industry, told LSN that if pro-life and conservative New Yorkers feel unwelcome in New York, they might want to try her state.
“Come to Texas!” Johnson said. “Seriously, I think it shows how ridiculous Gov Cuomo is and the hypocritical nature of his leadership. He bans large [soft] drinks in the nanny state, but allows girls as young as 13 to have abortions without any parental notification. They have one of the highest rates of violence against the unborn, yet condemn the legal use of guns by responsible citizens.”
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal echoed Johnson’s sentiment in a Facebook post Tuesday. “Hey displaced and persecuted New Yorkers…You can find refuge, loving people and great food in Louisiana,” said Jindal.
But while Johnson and Jindal made light of the governor’s words, there were those, especially within the Catholic Church (of which Cuomo is a member) who thought them to be no laughing matter.
“Cuomo Excommunicates Catholics,” proclaimed Pat Archbold of the National Catholic Register. He accused Cuomo of double hypocrisy because while the governor has continued to present himself as Catholic while publicly rejecting the Church’s teachings against abortion and homosexual behaviors, he is seemingly unhappy that those who fail to adhere to Democratic dogma on the same issues think they can call themselves New Yorkers.
“While the Catholic Church wrings its hands and furrows its collective brow over the unpastoral calls to excommunicate Catholic politicians who advocate grave sin as policy, these unholy pols have no such qualms,” wrote Archbold. “’L’État, c’est moi,’ is how the Governor/Pope must conceive of New York for he believes he has the power to excommunicate those who believe in ways that differ from him. The vaunted tolerance of the progressives extends no further than the man in the mirror.”
Even Cardinal Timothy Dolan struck out at Cuomo Tuesday, in an op-ed celebrating Respect Life Sunday (Jan. 19). After recalling a day filled with Catholics engaging in such pro-life activities as feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, assisting the poor, working to end gun violence – and, yes, protecting babies from abortion, Dolan declared it, “A good Sunday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral” and added rhetorically, “does any of this seem ‘extremist’ to you?”
One pro-life leader, however, felt Cuomo’s words were at least somewhat fitting for the dissident ‘Catholic’ governor.
Michael Hichborn of American Life League, in a Facebook post, offered up a meme for Cuomo: “’these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay … they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are,” Hichborn quoted the governor, adding, “Governor Cuomo, when you say this, you say it well, for the same is heard at the gates of Hell.”