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NY Candidate Gay-Bashes to Orthodox Applause

And today blames hottest lines on Jewish leaders

Marc Tracy
October 11, 2010
Carl Paladino yesterday.(Kathy Willens/AP/NYT)
Carl Paladino yesterday.(Kathy Willens/AP/NYT)

Carl Paladino, the Republicans’ gubernatorial candidate in New York, said some pretty mean things about gay people yesterday. “I don’t want [our children] brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option—it isn’t,” he said. He added, of Democratic candidate (and state attorney general) Andrew Cuomo, “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.” In a twist that makes this look both better and worse, he did not say a line that appeared in his prepared text: “There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual.”

And he said it all, to applause, to Orthodox Jewish leaders at Congregation Shaarei Chaim in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (Other major applause lines were anti-immigration and pro-“religious citizens.”)

Moreover, this morning Paladino has taken to the airwaves—in a state where 58 percent of residents advocate same-sex marriage, and with a gigantic city that has, shall we say, a not insubstantial gay population—to say that the most red-meat of the lines (including the one about “dysfunctional homosexuality”) were actually inserted by Jewish leaders, who, he added, “went too far.”

Here is a copy of the speech, courtesy Newsday’s Reid Epstein, with all the lines crossed out. Note that the original line had it, “There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual. That’s not how G-d created us … .” (Note also the scrubbed section about the downtown Islamic center, “a mosque whose real purpose is to mock the martyred victims of 9/11.” Again, to be fair, or at least accurate, he didn’t say that.)

The sordid event makes you wonder a lot of things. It makes you wonder why Paladino decided to go on the offensive against Cuomo over gay rights—“I was trying to define myself very clearly as opposed to Mr. Cuomo,” he told Matt Lauer this morning, while already in damage-control mode. “Mr. Cuomo took his daughters to a gay pride parade. Is that normal? Would you do it?”—at a gathering of Orthodox Jews. Maybe because he knew this crowd would greet his hate with especially strong support? It makes you wonder whether these Orthodox leaders know that Paladino, brave upholder of family values, has a daughter from an extramarital relationship, and that he said of (Orthodox Jewish) Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, “If I could ever describe a person who would fit the bill of an Antichrist or a Hitler, this guy is it.”

And it makes you wonder what it says that the Republican primary electorate in a major state chose this guy, who has too many sketchy scandals and disqualifications and embarrassments to go over here, as its standard-bearer.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.