On Sunday, October 10, 2010, New York Republican Gubernatorial Hopeful Carl Paladino said he didn't want children “brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option." Paladino, the Tea Party-backed candidate in New York, was speaking at a campaign appearance in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Paladino also attacked his election opponent Andrew Cuomo for having marched in a gay pride parade, then added "don't misquote me as wanting to hurt homosexual people in any way, that would be a dastardly lie."
But it's impossible to separate statements like this from the physical harm that LGBT people face every day, especially given the recent spate of anti-gay violence in Paladino's own backyard. GLAAD President Jarret Barrios said:
"Paladino's outrageous remarks are an embarrassment to fair-minded New Yorkers. This vile language is putting lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people in harm's way. It does nothing but contribute to a climate that encourages incidents like the recent brutal anti-gay attacks in New York City and the anti-gay bullying that led to numerous teen suicides over the last month."
Today, Paladino is defending himself. He told George Stephanopolous on ABC's Good Morning America that he's "not a homophobic." And he told Matt Lauer on NBC's Today Show "My feelings on homosexuality are unequivocal. I have absolutely no problem with it whatsoever. My only reservation is marriage." He added "I have a lot of homosexuals working in my organization."
But no matter what Paladino personally thinks, and no matter who wrote those words, the fact is that he said them, once again proving that bullies aren't limited to the classroom. Rhetoric like that places gay people in New York, and around the country, at risk.