Columnists :: Ask Phyllis
Parents confront homophobic campaign rhetoric
I’m curious to know your thoughts on New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino--and especially the anti-gay comments he made during a speech he gave recently to a group of Orthodox Jewish rabbis in Brooklyn. I live in Brooklyn, and I find Paladino’s comments truly appalling. As a mother, what would you say to Paladino?
Indeed, Carl Paladino’s homophobic remarks were appalling, but no more so than the speech he said was given to him to read by the Orthodox Jewish rabbis. Paladino’s excuse for his nasty and misguided remarks was that he is a Catholic and that this is what he believes in. Paladino used his religious beliefs as a cover for unacceptable and hurtful behavior. An elected official is supposed to be a leader of all the people without excluding certain groups. His religious practice and beliefs should be confined to his personal life, and should not intrude on his public responsibilities.
Mothers (dads too) have a unique advantage when speaking to an elected official. We can and should speak to the electeds in expressing our concerns for our child. We meet with him/her because we seek his/her help to see that our child is protected, and treated equally under the law. Speaking in a confrontational manner will only serve to shut down the politician. When we speak from the perspective of a parent we communicate with the elected at the level of the heart. Even if the official is not a parent, he/she will be able to identify with you since everyone has been someone’s child. Speaking in a confrontational manner is best left to others.
Mister Paladino should be told that we love our children equally, gay or straight. He should be reminded that they are entitled to and deserve to have equal rights, that they are taxpaying and productive members of society, and that we want what is best for our children just as he wants what is best for his children.