Unrepentant, Paladino calls gay parades ‘disgusting’
NEW YORK — Despite an uproar over his remarks about gays Sunday, Carl P. Paladino appeared on national television Monday and expressed revulsion at gay pride parades.
Paladino reiterated his criticism of Andrew M. Cuomo, his Democratic opponent for New York governor, for having taken his young daughters to a gay pride parade, saying that such events were inappropriate for children.
“Is that normal? Would you do it? Would you take your children to a gay pride parade?” Paladino asked host Matt Lauer on the “Today” show, speaking of Cuomo. “I don’t think it’s proper for them to go there and watch a couple of grown men grind against each other. I don’t think that’s proper. I think it’s disgusting.” He added, “No, I don’t regret the remarks.”
On Sunday, Paladino, speaking to a group of Orthodox Jewish leaders in Brooklyn, said children should not be “brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option — it isn’t.”
Paladino’s comments formed the backdrop as he took part Monday in one of the most prominent events of his campaign so far — the Columbus Day parade in Manhattan. He faced a smattering of hecklers along the route, although there were supporters as well and he was greeted cordially outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral by the archbishop of New York, Timothy F. Dolan.
With the march up Fifth Avenue barely begun, Paladino was surrounded by two dozen journalists. After they kept peppering him with questions about his comments about homosexuality, Paladino lost his temper.
“Would you take your children to the gay pride parade?” he said. “Tell me! Huh?”
To keep the swarm of reporters at bay, several police officers escorted him on the parade route. Some onlookers held signs denouncing Paladino, while others yelled at him.
“Paladino hates gay people!” said one man, Lenny Harrington, a 41-year-old electrician.
But Paladino also encountered friendly faces in the crowd.
Enrico Difinizio, 53, a sheet metal worker from Staten Island who described himself as a conservative Republican, said he supported Paladino.
“I don’t think the man hates gays,” Difinizio said. “He has his views. They’re true views. He’s a believer.”
Paladino and Dolan had a brief exchange, and a photographer who overheard a snippet of the conversation said Paladino had asked the archbishop for his blessing. After the parade, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, Joseph Zwilling, said Dolan had also spoken to Cuomo along the parade route. Dolan assured them that “they had his prayers,” Zwilling said.