In a move that has surprised some political observers, the New York-based Irish Republicans group have issued a strongly worded rejection of Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino’s widely reported anti-gay comments at the weekend.
The conservative Irish group were unexpected participants in a chorus of disapproval that included New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, gay-rights groups and prominent Democrats in the wake of Paladino’s statement on Sunday that children should not be “brainwashed” into thinking homosexuality is acceptable.
Paladino added that he though gay people “would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family,” than being gay. His comments caused an immediate firestorm.
“What someone does in their private life is their private life,” Jeff Cleary, executive director of Irish American Republicans told the Irish Voice. “This is a fundamental right of a free people.
“If someone is homosexual or transgendered that’s their right and Carl Paladino was completely out of line. I found his remarks insulting and full of bigotry.”
Cleary remarked that just a week earlier Paladino had warned the New York Post to stay out of his family’s private life. “Now he’s wagging his finger at Andrew Cuomo,” said Cleary. “It’s ridiculous.”
Adding to Paladino’s roster of conservative critics, Mike Cox, the chair of New York's Republican Party, said in a briefly worded statement, “We condemn any remarks that can be construed as homophobic.”
Dan Donovan, the Staten Island District Attorney who hopes to become the next state attorney general, echoed Cox’s statement, “Any statements of this nature are offensive. We should be fostering a dialogue on tolerance. These statements do not achieve that, and I do not agree with them.”
Brendan Fay, the co-chair of the inclusive St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Queens and prominent gay equality activist told the Irish Voice, “Given the week that we’ve just had with the rash of brutal anti-gay hate crimes and suicides, from Staten Island to the Bronx to Chelsea, the speech Paladino gave was absolutely outrageous.
“Most decent and fair-minded New Yorkers are in shock, and rightfully. He owes the city an apology. Statements like this reinforce the violence and discrimination experienced by gay people throughout this state. I’m glad that so many other leaders have spoken out very quickly against such prejudicial and hateful remarks.”
In a rare show of solidarity across the political spectrum, Cleary of Irish American Republicans echoed Fay’s disgust at Paladino’s recent antigay statements, concluding, “One’s own religious views can come into this issue. I respect that and I understand that and I have my own views as a practicing Catholic.
“But I keep them to myself, and I don’t think bigotry and hatred belong in a debate about who’s going to be the next governor. I’m just so angry at this guy its unbelievable.”