NEW YORK (AP) — Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino said in separate appearances Monday that he stands up for the rights of everyone, including gays, but thinks young children shouldn't be exposed to homosexuality, especially at gay pride parades.
"They wear these little Speedos and they grind against each other and it's just a terrible thing," Paladino said Monday on NBC's "Today" show. "Why would you bring your children to that?"
The candidate said he opposes same-sex marriage but would actively recruit gays to his administration. Mentioning his gay nephew, Paladino said the discrimination he and others face is a "very ugly experience."
The comments by Paladino, who has received tea party support, came a day after he told Orthodox Jewish leaders he doesn't want children "brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality" is acceptable.
At Monday's Columbus Day Parade in Manhattan, his Democratic opponent, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, said the comments were "reckless and divisive" in light of recent violence. Police say two teenage boys and a man were tortured recently in the Bronx because of suspicions they were gay.
Just before the parade began, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said Paladino should apologize. Paladino said at the parade that he stands up for gays' rights and abhors anti-gay violence.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, asked to comment on Paladino's earlier remarks, replied, "It's not what America stands for, and it's not what New York stands for, and I won't dignify it with anything else."
Paladino's remarks Sunday came at a synagogue in Brooklyn's Williamsburg section as he tried to strike a contrast between himself and Cuomo. Paladino said that he chose not to march in this summer's gay pride parade but that his opponent did.
"That's not how God created us," Paladino said Sunday of being gay, "and that's not the example that we should be showing our children."
He also told the congregation that children who later in life choose to marry people of the opposite sex and raise families would be "much better off and much more successful."
On ABC's "Good Morning America," he elaborated, saying, "I only have one problem with homosexuality, and that's their desire to be married, and beyond that I don't have a problem whatsoever."
Asked Monday on ABC whether his comments could be seen as insensitive in light of the recent violence, Paladino said no, adding that he believed his "comments were directed at the confusion that people have had over this issue."
"I wanted to clearly distinguish that my feelings about homosexuality were no different than those of the Catholic Church. I'm a Catholic. ... I wanted to make it clear what my position was, and I think I clearly defined it," he added.
On both ABC and NBC, Paladino said he crossed out a line from his prepared text at the synagogue that stated: "There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual."
"I did not say that. It's unacceptable. I crossed it out in the car. I did not say it," he said on "Today."
He said that he didn't know who included it in a draft of his remarks, but that it was not a member of his staff.
On "Good Morning America," he added that even though he chose not to make those comments, someone at the synagogue distributed his original prepared remarks, which included that wording.
"I refused to say that because it's not true," he said. "It's not how I feel about things."
A message left at the synagogue Monday was not returned.