Dear Governor Pataki

12 April 02
Governor George Pataki
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224
Dear Governor Pataki,
We are writing to express our objection to the appointment of Father John Bonnici to the
CUNY Board of Trustees. As an academic center engaged in fostering and disseminating
research on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues and people, we are alarmed
by the prospect of an avowed opponent of LGBT rights serving in this important post,
where he would participate in myriad decisions that have impact on the research, teaching,
student services, faculty, staff, and students of our university.
Father Bonnici, as you know, is an active and highly visible campaigner against abortion
and against gay rights. Of course he has every right to be. However, it is not appropriate for
him to shape the scholarly, teaching, and service functions of our vibrant — and secular —
university on the basis of these religious views. Will he, for instance, understand that
student counseling services must be open to students who request information on contraception
or safe-sex practice? Will he be able to put his bigotry aside when considering the
tenure of a young scholar working in the field of Queer Theory? Will he recognize the
academic importance of courses and programs that deal with complex issues of sexuality and
gender?
Given his record as an activist with adamant views — and particularly because he has
absolutely no experience in higher education and apparently very little knowledge of
CUNY’s life, mission, or processes — it is highly unlikely that Father Bonnici will be able
to consider any such matters objectively. Thus he is not a fitting candidate for CUNY’s
Board of Trustees. We are disturbed, in fact, that you would find him so. We can’t imagine
that you would recommend a candidate who had expressed hostility to the civil rights of,
say, African Americans or Jews. While recognizing that he is entitled to such views, you
would also see, we trust, how damaging and unacceptable such views would be at the table
of the CUNY Trustees, who are duty bound to protect and make thrive our diverse and vital
university. Why, then, is someone who has questioned the very humanity of LGBT people
your candidate? What message are you sending to voters who support LGBT rights and to
the LGBT people who work, teach, and study at CUNY?
On principle, hostility to any group of human beings simply for being themselves has no
place at the CUNY Board of Trustees. And such bigotry certainly has no place in shaping
the policy, curriculum, programs, services, faculty, and staff of CUNY.
We urge you to withdraw your nomination of Father Bonnici at once and to
recommend a candidate who can more honestly and properly serve this great university.
Sincerely yours,
Alisa Solomon, Executive Director
and CLAGS Board of Directors