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NEW YORK, August 14, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – President Obama should refuse a traditional invitation to an annual fundraiser for Catholic charities in New York “as a sign that he will oppose bigotry wherever it raises its ugly head,” according to a gay rights group promoting change in Catholic teaching on sexuality.

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s invitation to President Obama to speak alongside Mitt Romney at the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation charity dinner on Oct. 18 has raised controversy at a time when the Catholic Church is locked in a battle with the administration over a new HHS rule forcing religious groups to provide birth control in employee and student health plans.

According to the Archdiocese of New York, Obama has accepted the invitation.

Although most criticism of the invite has come from conservative leaders, the Rainbow Sash Movement last week also said the relationship between Dolan and Obama should end as a matter of principle – in this case, principles against Catholic Church “bigotry.”

“The Rainbow Sash Movement (LGBT Catholics) is calling on President Obama not to attend Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation dinner as a sign that he will oppose bigotry wherever it raises it ugly head,” said the group in a press release Wednesday.

RSM said the group hoped Obama “will send in his place either Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius or Vice President Joe Biden.” Biden and Sebelius – the latter being the main personality behind the HHS mandate – are both Catholics.

Several conservative leaders have issued statements saying that the invitation sends a wrong message, given the administration’s overt attacks on religious freedom.

“A corner has been turned in church-state relations,” said veteran Chicago pro-life leader Monica Migliorino Miller on Monday. Miller argued that Dolan’s “invitation to President Obama is at least a gesture that causes great confusion. There seems to be a kind of schizophrenia at work. On the one hand the Church must fight for its life against Obama’s polices, fight for her life in a way that is absolutely unprecedented, but then through this invitation, the Church behaves as if it’s simply business as usual, as if she were not in the midst of a real persecution.”

Although Miller said she greatly respects Cardinal Dolan for his strong conservative values, she compared the invitation to St. Peter inviting Nero, the first Roman emperor to persecute Christians, to an early Church fundraiser: “There seems to be a kind of schizophrenia at work.”

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