'A human being in defense of other human beings'

| 15 Feb 2012 | 08:36

    As a local official, it is typically not my place to publicly weigh in on state or national political issues - my concerns are exclusively for Woodbury and my work is exclusively on behalf of Woodbury. A letter in last week’s Warwick Advertiser, however, compels me to respond because the vitriol and fear mongering in it is beyond the pale and should not go unanswered. Most disturbing, perhaps, is that the letter was written by a senior pastor that presides over communities here in Orange and Ulster counties. As a human being, reading the pastor’s letter truly upset me. The gay marriage bill that was recently passed and signed into law has understandably evoked strong and often personal responses. There are extremists on both sides of the debate and I am certainly not one to demonize those who may not share my support of gay marriage - people are entitled to their own feelings and beliefs. Conversely, however, I was appalled to see a letter in our community newspaper suggest that gay marriage will lead our country “to a complete collapse that will invite chaos and anarchy like never before.” With all due respect to the pastor, if he does not agree with gay marriage, that’s fine. In fact, under the new law, a pastor or priest is not even required to perform wedding ceremonies if he does not wish to. To publicly demonize a whole group of people, however, and allege that they will somehow bring destruction to our great country is as cruel as it is nonsensical. I am not gay nor do I intend to speak on behalf of gays. Instead, I’m speaking as a human being in defense of other human beings, including gays who live in Woodbury that I proudly call my constituents. To see a pastor, someone who is supposed to be one of God’s shepherds here on earth, write such hurtful words is both ironic and extremely unsettling. Hatred should never go unanswered, even when it’s from the most unlikely of sources. Whether you support gay marriage or not, perhaps we should all focus on those verses in the Bible that encourage us to love and respect one another. I direct the pastor who penned last week’s letter to revisit John 13:34-35, for instance: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” James Skoufis Woodbury Town Councilman