Paladino in NYC: Being gay is not OK

GOP NY gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino meets with GOP NY gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino meets with rabbis in Brooklyn. (Oct. 10, 2010) Photo Credit: Uli Seit

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As Carl Paladino got ready to march in New York City's annual Columbus Day parade Monday, he wasn't backing down from a speech over the weekend where he told Hasidic Jewish rabbis in Brooklyn that he does not want children "brainwashed" into thinking it is OK to be gay.

"My children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family," the GOP gubernatorial candidate told a group of 50 rabbis in Williamsburg Sunday.

"And I don't want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option. It isn't."

A text distributed in advance by one of the hosting rabbis, and labeled as Paladino's prepared speech, included a statement that Paladino did not deliver: "There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual."

Asked why the line was omitted from Paladino's speech, campaign manager Michael Caputo said, "the speech that Carl read was his own," though he had received help writing it from "different leaders of the Orthodox community."

Paladino read from notes without looking up from the page. No other line was omitted from the prepared speech.

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In a statement issued after midnight Paladino said he did not agree with the passage, and said the remarks were suggested by his "hosts at the synagogue."

"In my speech today to Orthodox Jewish leaders in New York City, I noted my opposition to gay marriage, inspired by my Catholic beliefs," Paladino said in the statement. "I also oppose discrimination of any form."

Church teaching holds that followers should refrain from discriminating against gays but that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered."

When asked on the "Today" show Monday morning about the line omitted from his speech, Paladino said, "I read it beforehand and I crossed out that remark about dysfunctional. I was trained to define myself very clearly as opposed to [Andrew] Cuomo."

"The remarks that I made I believe in," he added. "I'm only responsible for what I say."

Paladino also said it wasn't "normal" for Cuomo to take his daughters to the New York City Gay Pride Parade.

"I don't think it's proper to watch a couple of grown men grind against each other," Paladino said.

Paladino also drew the condemnation of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization.

In a prepared statement released Monday, the Washington, D.C., organization said: "By his own words, Carl Paladino has made himself the poster boy for the kind of divisive leadership that makes young LGBT people question their self-worth and gives license to those who use violence to advance their hate."

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Paladino said on "Good Morning America" that "[Cuomo's camp] called [me] anti-female and some other things, now he called me a homophobic. I'm not a homophobic."

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Josh Vlasto, a spokesman for Cuomo, said in response to the Sunday speech that Paladino "displays a stunning homophobia and a glaring disregard for basic equality" and said he is "way out of the mainstream and is unfit to represent New York."

Paladino's remarks came in a speech heavy on social issues important to the ultra-Orthodox community. Paladino, a Buffalo businessman, promised to veto any same-sex marriage or civil union bills and to fight abortion rights.

Paladino, who also spoke to Orthodox rabbis in Borough Park, declined to take questions from reporters. He laughed when asked if there are any gay employees at the companies he owns.

To both religious groups, Paladino stressed that he would seek to provide tax credits and tax-exempt scholarships to poor children seeking to attend religious schools. He said the plan would be modeled after a Florida system that has been found constitutional.

"No longer will Yeshiva parents be penalized and forced to pay for education twice," he said.

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In his Borough Park address, Paladino declared himself to be the "religious-values candidate."

"I pledge to fight for family values, veto taxpayer-funded abortion, seek ways to protect everyone from obscenity on the Net, especially our children at home and libraries, and advance the family decency agenda," he said.

Paladino declined to say what he would do to protect people from Internet "obscenity" or how such a policy squares with his past actions. His campaign has included a controversy over pornographic and racist e-mails he forwarded. Paladino since has apologized for forwarding the e-mails.

"The only ones who aren't accepting that apology are those who oppose Carl Paladino and support Andrew Cuomo," Caputo said.

Cuomo, the Democratic candidate and the front-runner, visited Sunday with the 30,000-member Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn to accept an endorsement from its influential pastor, the Rev. A.R. Bernard.

"Extreme tactics on the campaign trail may translate into extreme use of power in the governor's mansion," Bernard said.

With Elizabeth Moore, John Valenti, Bobby Bonett and The Associated Press

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