In the wake of recent anti-gay bias crimes and Carl Paladino's controversial remarks on homosexuality over the weekend, Mayor Michael Bloomberg made an impassioned plea for tolerance Monday at an event hosted by the gay advocacy group PFLAG. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
On Sunday, Republican candidate for governor Carl Paladino said he doesn't want children brainwashed into thinking homosexuality is an equally valid option -- a view that was swiftly condemned by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"It's not what America stands for, and it's not what New York stands for, and I won't dignify it with anything else," said the mayor.
Indeed, a series of bias crimes and the furor caused by Paladino's remarks has left the gay community feeling under siege. So on Monday, Bloomberg -- long a vocal supporter of gay rights -- tried to seize the moment by taking a hard stance against homophobia at an event hosted by Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG.
"Let me be clear, these incidents are completely unacceptable," Bloomberg said.
The mayor also had a message for gay youth who have been targets of bullying and bias.
"This city stands with you. We believe in you. We want you here. We will do everything to keep you safe. And we will do everything to punish those who threaten the well-being of our citizens. And as I said over the weekend, the perpetrators of the abuse and torture in the Bronx will be spared no mercy," Bloomberg said.
The mayor's message was well-received by those in the audience and applauded by other elected officials.
"It's a very important thing the mayor is doing. He is sending, by being here tonight, a clear message that our city is a city for everyone, our city is a place where the LGBT community is not just welcomed, but is embraced," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
Bloomberg reiterated his support for gay marriage, saying government shouldn't be in the business of telling anyone whom they can love.