New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino is once again at the center of controversy, this time for remarks he made over the weekend that homosexuality isn't an "equally successful or valid option" to heterosexuality.
Paladino, who has gotten support from the Tea Party movement, spoke at a campaign appearance in the Williamsburg section of the borough of Brooklyn to a gathering of religiously and socially conservative Hasidic Jews.
The Republican was drawing contrasts with his opponent, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, New York State's attorney general, with Paladino using his opposition to gay marriage as one area to underscore differences between the two candidates.
But he went much further than just saying he opposed, and that his opponent supported, gay marriage.
... We must stop pandering to the pornographers and the perverts who seek to target our children and destroy their lives.
I didn't march in the gay parade this year, gay pride parade this year. My opponent did. And that's not the example that we should be showing our children. Certainly not in our schools.
And don't misquote me as wanting to hurt homosexual people in any way. That would be a dastardly lie. My approach is live and let live.
I just think my children and your children would be much better off and more successful getting married and raising a family. And I don't want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option.
I'm not sure anyone needs to misquote Paladino as wanting to, in his words, "hurt homosexual people in any way," since his unedited comments will no doubt prove hurtful to many gay and lesbian people.
At another point in his remarks, Paladino verbally cuffed Cuomo for bringing his daughters to the gay pride parade.
Meanwhile, several news sources have reported that Paladino's speech as written contained even more anti-gay language which he didn't deliver.
And then, to applause at Congregation Shaarei Chaim, he said: "I didn't march in the gay parade this year — the gay pride parade this year. My opponent did, and that's not the example we should be showing our children."Newsday.com reported that Mr. Paladino's prepared text had included the sentence: "There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual." But Mr. Paladino omitted the sentence in his speech.
About an hour after Mr. Paladino's remarks, Mr. Cuomo's campaign released a statement condemning them.
"Mr. Paladino's statement displays a stunning homophobia and a glaring disregard for basic equality," it said. "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."
Monday morning, Paladino tried to appear less strident about, and more understanding of, homosexuality. Responding to anchor Matt Lauer's questioning on NBC's Today show, Paladino said he would hire gays into his administration if he were elected governor and mentioned that he has gay staffers in his campaign as well as a gay nephew.
He said his comments were limited to efforts to expose children to what some call the gay agenda. Or the gay pride parade, for that matter.
PALADINO: Young children should not be exposed to that at a young age. They don't understand it. It's a very difficult thing. And exposing them to homosexuality, especially at a gay pride parade, and I don't know if you have ever been to one, but they wear these little Speedos and they grind against each other and it's just a terrible thing.
The controversy also provided further insight into how the Paladino campaign operates.
The Republican nominee indicated that the section of the speech that has embroiled him in more controversy was provided by his hosts and, it appears, were even too excessive for him. So he omitted them.
Another excerpt from Paladino's interview with Lauer:
LAUER: If you're running for the highest office in the state of New York and you show up at events and they hand you a piece of paper and say 'Here, that is what you have to say'
PALADINO: I read it and I crossed out that remark about dysfunctional. That is not me.