Upset that Republican Carl Paladino disavowed portions of the speeches he made at two Brooklyn synagogues on Sunday, Rabbi Yehuda Levin on Wednesday withdrew his support for the candidate.
“If he continues on this path, not only can’t I vote for him, but I will call on all religious people to write in ‘morality’ or something like that [on the ballot],” said Rabbi Levin in a phone interview.
Rabbi Levin, a crusader against gay marriage and abortion rights, wrote one of the two speeches read by the gubernatorial hopeful and parts of the second, he told The Jewish Week Sunday.
After a firestorm of criticism over the anti-gay remarks, including some that Paladino deleted from the text as delivered, Paladino at first defended the speech on Monday, but later released a statement saying he should have been more careful.
“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 sincerely apologize for any comment that may have offended the Gay and Lesbian Community or their family members.”
Rabi Levin said in the interview Wednesday, after a press conference outside St. Patrick’s cathedral, that Paladino “has been completely co-opted by homosexual militants. He has genuflected in an alarming and comprehensive way.”
He called on Archbishop Timothy Dolan, leader of the New York Catholic Diocese, to convene an interfaith conference of opponents of gay rights to “tell their side of the story” to the two major party candidates, both of whom are Catholic.
“He asked for forgiveness,” Rabbi Levin said of Paladino. “If he wants forgiveness, maybe he should see a priest.”
Rabbi Levin and Paladino, a Buffalo developer and landlord, became fast friends since their first meeting on Sept. 21, when the rabbi offered his support in response to accusations of anti-Semitism raised against Paladino by Jewish supporters of Democrat Andrew Cuomo.