NEW YORK – Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino said Monday that he does not discriminate against gays in his business or personal life, but opposes gay marriage.
He also said young children shouldn't be exposed to gay culture, and singled out pride parades with a description of marchers wearing "Speedos and grinding against each other."
It's "disgusting" and "a terrible thing," Paladino said Monday on NBC's "Today" show.
The candidate said he would have no problem hiring gays in his administration. Mentioning his gay nephew, Paladino said the discrimination he and others face is a "very ugly experience."
His comments came a day after he told Orthodox Jewish leaders he doesn't want children "brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality" is acceptable.
Paladino, who has received tea party support, made the remarks at a synagogue in Brooklyn's Williamsburg section while trying to strike a contrast between himself and his Democratic rival, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Paladino said he chose not to march in this summer's gay pride parade but his opponent did.
"That's not how God created us," Paladino said Sunday of being gay, "and that's not the example that we should be showing our children."
He also told the congregation that children who later in life choose to marry people of the opposite sex and raise families would be "much better off and much more successful."
On ABC's "Good Morning America," he elaborated on that, saying "I only have one problem with homosexuality, and that's their desire to be married, and beyond that I don't have a problem whatsoever."
Asked Monday on ABC if his comments could be seen as insensitive in light of a brutal gay-bashing incident in which two teenage boys and a man were tortured in the Bronx, Paladino said no, adding that he believed his "comments were directed at the confusion that people have had over this issue.
"I wanted to clearly distinguish that my feelings about homosexuality were no different than those of the Catholic Church. I'm a Catholic. ... I wanted to make it clear what my position was and I think I clearly defined it," he added.
On both ABC and NBC, Paladino said he crossed out a line from his prepared text at the synagogue that stated: "There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual."
"I did not say that. It's unacceptable. I crossed it out in the car. I did not say it," he said on "Today."
He said he didn't know who included it in a draft of his remarks, but it was not a member of his staff.
On "Good Morning America," he added that even though he chose not to make those comments, someone at the synagogue distributed his original prepared remarks that included that wording.
"I refused to say that because it's not true. It's not how I feel about things," he said.
A message left at the synagogue early Monday was not immediately returned.