WASHINGTON -Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese made the following statement today in reaction to Pope Benedict's anti-gay comments regarding marriage. In talking about marriage equality the Pope referenced "pseudo-matrimonies" and said, "Matrimony and the family are not, in reality, a casual sociological construction or the fruit of specific historic and economic situations."

"It is unfortunate that the Pope would choose so early in his pontificate to sweepingly condemn so many faithful Catholics. There is a long Biblical tradition of showing love and compassion for all. It is from that tradition that so many fair-minded Catholics want to see their Pope speaking. It's sad that he's choosing to ignore that tradition and to divide his followers."

"No one in the fight for marriage equality is asking any church to perform or recognize these marriages. What we're asking for are equal rights and responsibilities under the law. There are millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics who should feel welcomed by their Church. Today they do not."

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.