Paladino defends anti-gay remarks

By Lois Romano
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 12, 2010; A4

Carl Paladino, the voluble Republican candidate for New York governor, likes to foster an image as a renegade who speaks his own mind.

Yet on Monday, he said that the anti-gay remarks he made over the weekend weren't his own.

At an appearance before Orthodox Jewish groups in Brooklyn on Sunday, Paladino said children should not be "brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality" is acceptable. He also took a swipe at his Democratic opponent, New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo (D), for marching in a gay pride parade with his daughters.

Paladino explanation: He said he was simply reading from remarks his hosts handed to him.

The candidate declined to take back what he said. But campaign spokeswoman Robin Wolfgang said it was out of character and a mistake for him to have used someone else's words.

"What has gotten him this far is that he expresses his own views," she said. "Carl learns from his mistakes, the campaign learns from its mistakes. The remarks were given to him as a topic the hosts care about."

On the video of the event, which quickly went viral, Paladino appears to be reading the words for the first time; he's stiff and his eyes barely leave the page. first reported that the text also included a sentence that Paladino did not deliver: "There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual."

In a attempt at damage control, the Buffalo developer made a sweep of morning show appearances. But they did little to quell the controversy.

"I don't regret the remarks," he said on NBC's "Today" show.

Paladino's comments came as New Yorkers were still absorbing the news that nine young men in the Bronx are suspected of luring a gay man and two teenage boys to a building last week and beating them and sodomizing them with a baseball bat.

The candidate said on the CBS morning show that while he does not support same-sex marriage, he is not a bigot and that he would hire gays. "I want to clearly define myself. I have no reservations about gay people at all, none, except for one thing, their desire to get married," he said.

But he also noted on "Today" that he does not think it is appropriate for children to attend gay pride parades because they feature men in Speedos "grinding at each other and doing these gyrations."

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 the 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, who trails Cuomo in polls, issued a statement saying that he abhors "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."

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