Paladino Says He's Not Homophobic

October 11, 2010 Updated Oct 11, 2010 at 8:40 PM EDT

By Ginger Geoffery

October 11, 2010 Updated Oct 11, 2010 at 8:40 PM EDT

Buffalo businessman-turned-candidate Carl Paladino is ruffling feathers once again as he campaigns for governor, this time for comments he made about homosexuals while talking to Jewish leaders in Brooklyn on Sunday.

"My approach is live and let live," Paladino told the Orthodox Jewish group, "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 to be brainwashed into thinking homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option. It isn't."

Paladino's opponent, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, pounced on the remarks. A statement from his campaign says the Republican candidate displayed "a stunning homophobia and a glaring disregard for basic equality."

Paladino spent much of Monday on national television shows clarifying his position. "I'm not a homophobic," Paladino said on ABC's Good Morning America, "I have no reservations whatsoever about gays except for marriage."

Sunday's comments though made Paladino fodder once again for talk shows such as ABC's The View. "He (Paladino) does not learn. He's just a fool," said host Whoopi Goldberg on Monday morning's show.

"It bothers me when politicians will consistently use the gay community as a pawn during elections," added conservative View commentator Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

Paladino's remarks bothered many local gays and lesbians particularly in light of recent violence against gays in parts of New York. Some also find it offensive that Paladino, who fathered a child with a woman who is not his wife, is commenting on the lifestyles of others. "Carl Paladino, who left his marriage bed and had an affair with a woman, has the audacity to tell me what my children need to make stability in their life," says Kitty Lambert of OUTspoken for Equality.

The Pride Center of Western New York is organizing a peaceful demonstration outside Paladino's Ellicott Square building in downtown Buffalo for 4:00 p.m. Tuesday.