Paladino defends comments on gays
Monday, October 11, 2010; 7:56 PM
Carl Paladino, the volatile GOP candidate for governor of New York, on Monday refused to step back from his inflammatory comments disparaging gays over the weekend, saying that children should not attend gay pride parades because they featured men in bikinis "grinding at each other and doing these gyrations."
"I don't think that's proper, I think it's disgusting," Paladino told NBC's "Today."
In appearances before Orthodox Jewish groups Sunday in Brooklyn, the Buffalo developer and tea party-backed candidate created an uproar by saying that children should not be "brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is acceptable." He also took a swipe at his opponent, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, for marching in a gay pride parade with his children.
His remarks came as the state was still absorbing the news that nine young men had lured a gay man and two teenagers to a building and for hours savagely beat, tortured and raped them with a baseball bat.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force denounced Paladino's comments as "hurtful and dangerous ... in a time when anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender violence has risen in New York City."
"Preaching hate from our pulpits, in our politics, or to our pupils is simply unacceptable. It literally endangers lives," said Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, faith director of the task force.
Cuomo's campaign called Paladino's remarks evidence of "stunning homophobia and a glaring disregard for basic equality. These comments along with other views he has espoused make it clear that he is way out of the mainstream and is unfit to represent New York."
Paladino said this morning that although he does not support gay marriage, he is not a bigot and that he would hire gays.
Paladino, who trails Cuomo in polls, has a proven penchant for controversial comments and bizarre behavior. Last week, he got into an altercation with a New York Post reporter and threatened to take him out. He has suggested reporters look into Cuomo's personal life and has sent vulgar and pornographic e-mails to his friends and co-workers.
Paladino said on "Today" that he did not regret his remarks on homosexuality. He said he once stumbled upon a gay pride parade.
"It wasn't pretty," Mr. Paladino said. "It was a bunch of very extreme-type people in bikini-type outfits grinding at each other and doing these gyrations, and I certainly wouldn't let my young children see that.
"Young children should not be exposed to that at a young age. They don't understand; it's a very difficult thing," said Paladino. "And exposing them to homosexuality, especially at a gay pride parade, and I don't know if you have ever been to one ... and it's just a terrible thing."
On Sunday, Paladino was reportedly reading from text provided to him by his conservative Jewish hosts in Brooklyn. Newsday.com first reported that the text had included a sentence Paladino that did not deliver: "There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual."
Late Sunday night, Paladino issued a statement saying that he "abhorred discrimination in any form. I enjoy a close relationship with my nephew, who is gay, and I certainly consider him to be a functional child of God."