Carl Paladino apologizes for remarks; gay nephew Jeff Hannon 'offended'

Wed. October 13, 2010 1:42 PM by Carlos Santoscoy

New York City - After two days of defending – then backtracking a bit – New York GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino on Tuesday relented to increasing pressure from Democratic lawmakers, gay rights advocates and even his own party to apologize for anti-gay remarks he made Sunday.

"I sincerely apologize for any comment that may have offended the gay and lesbian community or their family members," the Tea Party-backed Paladino said in a statement.

"Any reference to branding an entire community based on a small representation of them is wrong," he added.

In a speech on Sunday to Orthodox Jewish leaders in Brooklyn, Paladino said that his opposition to gay marriage stems from not wanting children "brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality" is acceptable.

More than 100 demonstrators lined up on Tuesday outside Paladino's campaign headquarters in Buffalo to protest his remarks. One sign read: "Bigotry, Homophobia, Adultery – Are These Your Family Values, Carl?"

In early morning interviews on Monday, he brushed off his critics, including his rival Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic state attorney general, whom he blasted for having taken his children to a gay pride parade.

"It wasn't pretty," he said during an appearance on ABC's Good Morning America, referring to a Toronto parade he stumbled across with his wife. "It was a bunch of very extreme type people in bikini type outfits grinding at each other and doing these gyrations. And I certainly wouldn't let my young children see that."

At a Columbus Day parade, Paladino again denied he's anti-gay and insisted he had been misquoted.

"My remarks were very clear," he told reporters. "I am 100 percent, unequivocally pro-gay rights. Except for one thing: gay marriage. That's it."

On Wednesday, Paladino's openly gay nephew, Jeff Hannon, whom the candidate has repeatedly pointed to as proof that he's not homophobic, told the New York Post that he was "very offended" by his uncle's remarks.

"Obviously, I'm very offended by his comments," Hannon, who works for the Paladino campaign in Buffalo, said.

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