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Carl Paladino Softens Remarks on Homosexuality, but Says Children Can Be 'Brainwashed'

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New York's Republican candidate for governor, Carl Paladino, on Monday attempted to clarify remarks he'd made the previous day about homosexuality, telling Matt Lauer on NBC's "Today" show that discrimination against gays "is horrible. It's terrible."

Paladino, a Tea Party favorite, on Sunday had sharply attacked homosexuality in a speech to Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn even as the tragedy of gay bullying has riveted the nation and a day after three gay men were tortured in the Bronx because of their sexual orientation.

Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd at Congregation Shaarei Chaim in the trendy and traditional Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, where hipsters live cheek by jowl with Hasidic Jews, Paladino was talking about the importance of not "pandering to the pornographers and perverts" when he continued on to the issue of gay rights, which he opposes.

"I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don't want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option -- it isn't," said Paladino, who has a reputation for being frank to the point of volatility.

Paladino also had controversial remarks that he did not deliver, writing at one point in his prepared speech: "There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual" and being homosexual "is not how God created us."

In the "Today" show interview, Paladino said he is not anti-gay and that he would "absolutely" recruit gays to work in his administration. "You name it. Wherever their expertise may be, we'll put them in our government."

Asked about the "brainwashed" remark, he said that comment had "to do with schooling children. My feelings on homosexuality are unequivocal. I have absolutely no problem with it whatsoever. My only reservation is marriage."

He said that "children should not be exposed to that at a young age. They don't understand this. It's a very difficult thing. And exposing them to homosexuality, especially at a Gay Pride parade, and I don't know if you've ever been to one, but they wear these little Speedos and they grind against each other. It's just a terrible thing."

When interviewer Matt Lauer noted that some of the content in Paladino's speech was written by the people he was addressing -- a group of Orthodox Jews -- Paladino said, "That section of my presentation was written, okay, and it was handed to a staffer and it was put into the [text]. I crossed it out. "

"That group gets to write the comments they want you to make?" Lauer asked?

"No," Paladino responded. "It was with a discussion, but then they went too far in the discussion and I crossed all that stuff out. The only part that I said was what you just quoted me" on about children being brainwashed.

Asked to clarify the reference to homosexuality equating with "dysfunction," he replied, "I did not say that. It's unacceptable." Click play below to watch Paladino on the "Today" show:

In his remarks Sunday, the Republican also had harsh words for his Democratic opponent, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, for marching in this year's gay pride parade. "[T]hat's not the example we should be showing our children," he said to applause.

He added: "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."

In his "Today" interview, Paladino took another swing at his opponent: "I was trying to define myself very clearly, as oppposed to Mr. Cuomo. Mr. Cuomo took his daughters to a Gay Pride parade. Is that normal? Would you do it? Would you take your children to a Gay Pride parade? . . . I don't think it is proper for them to go there and watch a couple of grown men grinding against each other. I don't think that's proper. It's disgusting."

Paladino's campaign manager, Michael R. Caputo, told The New York Times on Sunday that the candidate employs a gay man on his campaign staff and said his views reflect those of the Catholic Church.

"Carl Paladino is simply expressing the views that he holds in his heart as a Catholic," Caputo told The Times. "Carl Paladino is not homophobic, and neither is the Catholic Church."

Caputo continued that line in remarks to CNN.

"Carl Paladino's position on this is exactly equivalent to the Catholic Church," Caputo said. "And if Andrew Cuomo has a problem with the Catholic Church's position on abortion and homosexuality, he needs to take it up with his parish priest."

Paladino's comments drew a harsh rebuke from the gay community.

"His words foster a climate of hatred and intolerance instead of helping heal the city of its wounds," Michael Silver, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, told the Daily News. Silver called on Paladino to apologize immediately.

Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto blasted Paladino's comments.

"Mr. Paladino's statement displays a stunning homophobia and a glaring disregard for basic equality," Vlasto said in a statement. "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."

Caputo disagreed. "The majority of New Yorkers agree with him," he said of Paladino's views on homosexuals and gay rights.

Polls have shown 58 percent of New Yorkers favor gay marriage, which Paladino says he opposes. Polls have also shown Cuomo expanding his lead on Paladino after the gap had closed last month to six points.

Paladino's own personal life has been an issue in the campaign. He has raised charges about Cuomo's sex life that he now admits are unsubstantiated, while Paladino is married but has a 10-year-old daughter from an affair with a former employee of his. He has also admitted to sending out obscene and racist e-mails.

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Nell Earhart

Gay Pride parades are disgusting.. and I would say the same about a Heterosexual Pride Parade where people dressed in an extremely revealing and crude manner and simulated sex..If you want me to take your cause seriously.. act like an adult.. be modest in public

October 11 2010 at 1:49 PM

God didn't make people gay. God revealed everything we need to know about his creation in the Bible.Those that don't want to believe the Bible that's your choice.God has given all of us a choice to live a moral life by believing in His Son Jesus Christ and live according to his Word or live a immoral life and deny God's Word and God's Son Jesus Christ.Once people are told about the choice God's given them whatever they choose is between them and God.

October 11 2010 at 1:47 PM

Some good points.

October 11 2010 at 1:42 PM

In some ways it's a good thing to see a politician openly representing movement away from government by the fringes, but a shame not to see at least some of the non-traditional community being able to see the "homophobia" accusations for what they are: irrational slurs meant to intimidate a anyone failing to pander to fringe groups bent on gaining government and taxpayer financed, political and economic advantage. To speak honestly about anything these days is to be convinced otherwise with a "stick made" of group think conceits and made up language. It does seem that the politico-socio bullies of today, have learned their lessons only too well from the politico-socio bullies of days past; but curiouser still that they all still remain on opposite sides. (Why are my keystrokes seemingly attempting to be logged here? Please show some moderation, please, website.)

October 11 2010 at 1:41 PM

Paladino has every right to state his beliefs, and I think that, by all means, he should do so - let people know his stance on issues before the election. However, I would say that, in light of the recent hate crimes against homosexuals in the city, the timing for some of his comments is way off.

October 11 2010 at 1:41 PM

Geeez...we finally get a politician who is frank and tells the truth and we find something to bring him down. Why cant he have his own opinion...actually why cant we all have our own opinion. Unfortunately we have become a PC society that if you dont like something (whatever it might be) you are a bigot. Can noone have an opposing view?? I dont have any problem with gays or them getting married, I wish it would be allowed already so they could shut up and stop forcing it in our faces. The fact is that not everyone will think the same and the more they try to make it so the worse it is for their position. The FACT of the matter is it is NOT "normal", it is ok and whatever they want to do is fine just dont try to make people see it as "normal" because it just isnt. unfortunatley you cannot have children with out the males and females coming together in some way, which is what he means by "not the way god made us". No two men or two women on this earth can have a baby without some kind of intervention, its simply not possible and that is what is meant by not being "normal". Its not that they are mutants just that humans cannot survive that way without modern technology. If gay became the norm 200 yrs ago we would not exist now. Either way, gay behavior has been around as long as time and everyone has to come to grips with that and its not going to go away cus some people are opposed to it. We should all just try to accept each others differences and move forward. You dont have to love gays just accept that it happens and vice versa and live your own life with your own opinions, without trying to tell each other what is "right" or "wrong".

October 11 2010 at 1:38 PM

"judge lest ye be judged" it is not for us to judge anyone on their sexuality, if you believe in that verse of the bible, and the one below... that right is reserved for God alone... who are we make decisions for God? "live, and let live"

October 11 2010 at 1:38 PM

Right on.

October 11 2010 at 1:38 PM

Why is it that when a public figure expresses a opinion based on their personal beliefs he/she is vilified for it when it goes against the PC mentality of most of the media today? I have gay friends. I don't accept/tolerate discrimination against them, but I also don't believe you can equate gay marriage with traditional marriage. Some of my gay friends agree, others are outraged, but know I'm being true to my personal beliefs. For years, Gay's said that it wasn't a choice, it was the way they were born. Many said they wished it wasn't so. When they started the human gene exploration and some researchers said they might be able to find the so called "gay" gene and change it, the radical gay community expressed outrage, and said they like their lifestyles the way they are. So clearly it's as much about nurture/personal enjoyment as biology. Reproduction is the universal goal of all living things. Clearly without artificial means/sperm donors/adoption, gays couldn't have children without heterosexual sex. I'd say that's a dysfunctional lifestyle, the inability to reproduce without violating YOUR core beliefs.

October 11 2010 at 1:37 PM

@laclaw61--1) Neither homosexuality nor heterosexuality are dysfunctional; they are states of being. Some homosexuals and some heterosexuals do exhibit dysfunction. So what? 2) As for how it was intended to be, it sure seems as if that is how it was intended to be--at least for some people. Similarly, it seems that it was intended to be that some people are left-handed. The world is made so that no two people are alike. 3) God does not oppose gays--at least their is nothing against it in the Hebrew Bible; 4) Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for their lack of hospitality and welcome of people who are different (according to Jesus), for "grinding the faces of the poor" into the dirt (according to Isaiah), for arrogance and creating a class of people who were too wealthy--and refused to share their wealth with others (according to Ezekiel), for heterosexual adultery (according to Jeremiah); 5) some states do still have sodomy laws, but as more and more people are realizing that homosexuality is just as normal for gays as heterosexuality is for non-gays, those laws are changing, just as they have in so many countries around the world--and just as there are fewer disabilities for people who are left-handed. Human laws may be good at the time they are enacted, but quite often they require emendation over time. When laws and cultures do not evolve, they die out or become irrelevant. @chimayred--Paladino is 100% on target? He sent out racist Emails (he's admitted to them); he's sent out Emails demeaning women (he's admitted to that); he lied about his opponent having affairs and children out of wedlock (he's admitted to it--oh, he has admitted that that is what he's done--fathered a child out of wedlock, which is his business until he casts the first stone, knowingly telling a lie about his opponent. If lying and making hateful comments about groups of people that incite hatred is being 100% on target, I suppose he is--and that's a great reason to make sure he does not get elected Paladino seems to always go off on angry rants. Lots of us have reason to be unhappy with many of our elected officials--sending in ranting, angry people who only know how to get people angry but do not have any good ideas, do not know how to work with other people, and who do not display any apparent skill set or the proper temperament to do serious work that affects millions of lives is not the answer. In this race, like him or not, Cuomo is the only legitimate choice.

October 11 2010 at 1:37 PM


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