Six Days, 180 Degrees: A Timeline Of Carl Paladino’s Gay Rights Flip-Flop

Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday that New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino was criticizing Democrat Andrew Cuomo for taking his kids to a gay pride parade, and saying that being gay is not “an equally valid or successful option?” Well that’s because it was pretty close to yesterday.

To be precise, six days after the Republican Paladino made his now infamous remarks, he had a near-complete change of heart, even going so far as to ask gay leaders to educate him on gay rights, and criticizing his Democratic opponent for not showing enough support for the gay community.

Here’s a timeline of Paladino’s whiplash-inducing turnaround, beginning on that fateful day, last Sunday, October 10…Sunday, October 10: In the speech heard ’round New York, Paladino delivered remarks to the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, and slammed Cuomo for going to a gay pride parade with his children: “I did not march in the gay pride parade this year, my opponent did. And that’s not the example that we should be showing our children.” He continued: “I don’t want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option. It isn’t.”

Here’s the video:

That same day it came out that Paladino’s prepared remarks (that weren’t prepared by his campaign) also contained the statement: “There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual. That is not how God created us.” Paladino did not deliver that line, and later in a statement said: “I do not agree with this passage, nor did I say it.”

Monday, October 11: Paladino embarks on a defense/apology media tour on the cable news shows. On Fox and Friends he says: “I unequivocally have no reservations about homosexuality. I know the difficulties that homosexuals suffer.” But he reiterates his position on gay pride parades, where he says there are “men in Speedos, grinding and doing things to each other.”

“Young people should not necessarily be exposed to that,” he also says, but maintains that it doesn’t mean he has a problem with gay people: “My feelings about homosexuality are no different than those of the Catholic Church.”

The New York Times also reports that Rabbi Yehuda Levin, who had been working with Paladino to help him connect to the Orthodox Jewish community and helped him organize the Sunday event, played a role in writing the offending speech. “I did not write [the speech],” Mr. Levin told the Times. “However, I did have some input into it — and I stand ready to defend the content of it.”

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Mario, Pinocchio, And…Grover Cleveland? Top 10 Carl Paladino Campaign Posters]

Tuesday, October 12: Following a media and internet firestorm, Paladino reiterates his opposition to gay marriage, but apologizes, kind of:

Yesterday I was handed a script. I redacted some contents that were unacceptable. I did also say some things for which I should have chosen better words. I said other things that the press misinterpreted and misstated. I sincerely apologize for any comment that may have offended the Gay and Lesbian Community or their family members. Any reference to branding an entire community based on a small representation of them is wrong.

(Note: Paladino spokesman Michael Caputo told the New York Daily News that the use of “yesterday” in the statement was an error.)

Paladino also promises to take it a step further: “I will reach out to leaders of the gay community to educate me on how to better represent my support for the rights of all citizens. If elected as your governor I will stand and fight for all gay New Yorkers rights.”

In addition, everyone from Rudy Giuliani to Ann Coulter weighs in on Paladino’s remarks. Giuliani calls them “highly offensive,” while Coulter defends them.

Wednesday, October 13: Rabbi Yehuda Levin does an almost-spit take when he hears of Paladino’s apology, The New York Times reports: “I was in the middle of eating a kosher pastrami sandwich,” Rabbi Levin said. “While I was eating it, they come running and they say, ‘Paladino became gay!’ I said, ‘What?’ And then they showed me the statement. I almost choked on the kosher salami.”

Though he withdraws his support from Paladino, Levin does leave room for Paladino to return to the anti-gay fold, at “such time as he straightens out.”

Thursday, October 14: Things are pretty quiet for Paladino on this front, though Cuomo has a field day trying to fundraise off Paladino’s comments, and even Coulter’s defense of them. As for Paladino, he’s got other problems: More pornographic e-mails surface that he supposedly forwarded. Last April when the first batch of e-mails surfaced, they contained racist images and depictions of bestiality. This time, the straight porn appears to do a lot less political damage to Paladino.

Friday, October 15: Paladino’s attack on Cuomo comes full-half circle, as he accuses the Democrat of not showing enough support for gay rights. In an e-mail sent out by his campaign, Paladino references other New York Democrats recently speaking out in support of gay rights, and quotes a recent New York Times story that said “the state’s most popular Democrat, Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, was all but invisible.” The full e-mail can be read here.

The TPM Poll Average shows Cuomo leading Paladino 54.3%-38.2%.

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