With the city reeling from one of the most vicious hate crimes on gays in recent memory, guv hopeful Carl Paladino yesterday said kids shouldn’t be taught that homosexuality is OK.
“I don’t want [our children] brainwashed into thinking homosexuality is an equally valid ... option,” he said in a speech to Orthodox Jewish leaders in Brooklyn.
The 64-year-old Republican also criticized his opponent, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, for taking “his two daughters to march in a homosexual parade.”
Cuomo’s campaign pounced quickly when hearing about the speech.
“Mr. Paladino’s statement displays a stunning homophobia and a glaring disregard for basic equality,” wrote Josh Vlasto, a Cuomo campaign spokesman.
Newsday reported that early scripted comments in Paladino’s stump talk went even further, including the sentence: “There’s nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual.”
But Paladino’s campaign manager Michael Caputo denied the phrase “dysfunctional homosexual” was in the script.
The polarizing remarks come in the wake of a recent spate of high-profile anti-gay incidents in the New York City area, including the violent torture of three men in the Bronx last weekend by gang members.
Caputo condemned the Bronx attack, saying “beating up anybody is against the law.” He defended Paladino’s remarks, pointing out that he also said in the speech, “I’m not anti-gay. I believe in ‘live and let live.’”
A spokeswoman for a gay advocacy group in the city slammed Paladino’s comments.
“People are being told by … an elected official that [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people aren’t worthy of equality,” said Natasha Dillon, a founder of Queer Rising.
Meanwhile yesterday, an unnamed man said he was taunted for wearing a Twins shirt at Yankees Stadium by fans singing “YMCA” with anti-gay lyrics during Saturday’s game, Gothamist reported.
“The bottom line is we know (gay) violence is a result of a culture of violence which starts with relatively casual comments like, ‘That’s so gay,’” said Sharon Stapel, director of the city-based Anti-Violence Project.