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Pat and Bill Buckley: Not 2 of a Kind

By James A. Revson

PAT BUCKLEY is in trouble.

She's been indicted and condemned in the Village Voice and Out Week, a new gay news magazine.

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And it's guilt by association.

Her husband, author William F. Buckley Jr. is the reason. In 1986, he called for the tattooing of gay people with AIDS on their buttocks and IV drug users on their arms as a means of "private protection." The idea was not well-received.

Then two weeks ago in his Daily News column, Buckley wrote that AIDS is a "self-inflicted" disease that is the result of irresponsibility on the part of "dope addicts and sex-driven gays."

Buckley's comments couldn't have come at a worse time.

His wife is co-chairmen of a major society benefit on Nov. 6 called "Skating for Life" that hopes to raise $ 1 million for AIDS support groups around the country.

And Mrs. Buckley had just finished working on another large AIDS benefit earlier this month at Mortimer's restaurant which raised more than $ 750,000 for research.

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And that's when the trouble began.

Out Week columnist Michelangelo Signorile started off by quoting from a New York Times article which described how Mrs. Buckley and Casey Ribicoff had been working for hours on the day of the Mortimer's benefit answering phones and doing odd jobs.

Signorile then ripped Buckley apart, saying that her good deeds were all calculated to create "good public relations for her maniac husband" and that she was a "walking advertisment for her husband and his murderous poltical beliefs." If that wasn't enough, Signorile branded Mrs. Buckley "the slimiest woman walking the face of the earth" and "a grotesque monster."

Village Voice columnist Michael Musto then jumped into the fray. Last week, he wrote that Mr. and Mrs. Buckley should not be mentioned by any and all newspaper columnists "until he stops calling AIDS 'a self-inflicted' problem of the sex-driven and careless."

The Buckley boycott had begun.

This week, Signorile dug into the Buckleys and Daily News columnist William Norwich, juxtaposing William Buckley's "fascist homophobic" column with two of Norwich's write-ups about the social goings-on of the couple. It was all meant to point the finger at Norwich for promoting anything to do with William Buckley, especially his wife.

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Mrs. Buckley doesn't want to talk about any of this. She's emphatic.

"I will not address this," she said yesterday.

After being read parts of Signorile's column, she told an acquaintance: "Ignore it. I don't need to be defended."

Maybe not, but something needs to be said.

Pat Buckley should not be condemned because of her husband. And she is certainly not responsible for his offensive opinions.

There is no doubt that William Buckley is misguided, misinformed and mistaken in his appraisal of this disease. He might even be dangerous.

His wife is not.

She obviously does not share his views and is in no position to publicly criticize him. Judge Pat Buckley by her actions not by her husband's words.

She has been fund raising for AIDS causes for the past 3 1/2 years, ever since her friend, Judy Peabody, introduced her to Sister Patrice Murphy who heads up St. Vincent's Supportive Care Program. She only got involved in the Design Industries Foundation for AIDS benefit on Nov. 6 because 25 percent of the proceeds will go to supportive care.

"Patient care is what I elected to work for," she explained. And she works for St. Vincent's because of what she describes as "the tender loving care, the concern and the calibre of the doctors and nurses."

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By her own calculation, Mrs. Buckley has helped raise $ 2.5 million for AIDS causes.

"It's just my way of life," she said about her overall fund-raising efforts. "One is obligated to help, to give as much as one can."

Signorile and others don't care about all the money that Mrs. Buckley has raised.

They believe that everything she does is tainted by her husband's views. As Signorile wrote in his column, "We don't need Pat Buckley answering phones at some charity event; we can get anyone to answer phones."

But can you get anyone to raise $ 2.5 million?HEADER:Homeless Benefit

The newly founded East Side Community Center hopes to raise money and consciousness this Sunday at a 5:30 p.m. concert at Christ Church, 520 Park Ave. with singers Ashford & Simpson and writers Fran Lebowitz, George Plimpton and Calvin Trillin.

The center, located on East 77th Street, will provide the homeless with food, clothing and medical care when it opens next month. The evening of "Words and Music" at $ 25 a head is being hosted by, among others, philanthropist Samuel Peabody, haute bookseller Jeannette Watson, writer Stephen M.L. Aronson, ex-Interview editor Shelley Wanger, star caterer Sean Driscoll and playwright Jane Hitchcock. Call 838-3033 for tickets.

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