Carl Paladino has made a joke of the New York governor’s race, but on Sunday the tea party candidate showed he could be hateful as well. Speaking to a group of Orthodox Jews just days after it was reported that two teenagers and an adult were tortured nearby in the Bronx for being gay, Paladino said children should not be “brainwashed” into thinking homosexuality is “equally valid.”

Apparently wanting to deflect any charges that he was endorsing violence, he added: “Don’t misquote me as wanting to hurt homosexual people in any way. That would be a dastardly lie.”

I disagree. You cannot campaign against a group of Americans and then divorce yourself from the repercussions. Politicians and religious leaders who legitimize bigotry and foster a culture so intolerant that teenagers would rather kill themselves than come out bear responsibility for the deaths, the beatings and all the rest.

To paraphrase Bill Maher, who ranted on this subject Friday, if you’re going to hate gays, don’t hide behind excuses like you’re defending marriage (from what?). It’s time for bigots like Carl Paladino and those in the audience who applauded him to come all the way out of the closet. — Peter Z. Scheer

New York Times:

“I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option — it isn’t,” he said, reading from a prepared address, according to a video of the event.

And then, to applause at Congregation Shaarei Chaim, he said: “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.” reported that Mr. Paladino’s prepared text had included the sentence: “There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual.” But Mr. Paladino omitted the sentence in his speech.

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