I haven’t written about the race for New York State Governor this year, in part, because I’ve learned that there’s a great deal going on behind the scenes in New York State politics that few people, even reporters for the New York Times, can honestly say that they understand. I can remember when Eliot Spitzer seemed like a paragon of ethics, and when David Paterson seemed like a leader who could get things done.
Also, there’s the issue of inheritance. Andrew Cuomo is an intelligent person who has been planning his rise to the seat of Governor for years. However, I don’t think for a minute that he’d be in place to become Governor right now if he weren’t the son of former New York State Governor Mario Cuomo. It doesn’t make Andrew Cuomo the wrong choice, but these kinds of political dynasties make me deeply uncomfortable, because they are common enough to reveal that the United States doesn’t have the kind of meritocratic society that it claims to have. Inherited power is something a very few people can play with, and something that keeps most people out of the political game.
Still, something has happened in the campaign for Governor in New York that makes me feel that I need to write about the race. Republican candidate Carl Paladino has made a statement so out of touch with reality that it can’t be ignored, especially in someone who seeks to become the top executive in New York.
Paladino gave a speech yesterday in which he lashed out at homosexuals, saying that they can’t form successful couples. Citing his religious beliefs as a justification, Paladino talked about his worries that children might learn to respect gays and lesbians. He said, “I don’t want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option.”
Brainwashing? I thought that was a concept that last had credibility in the early 1980s, when people were still worrying that killer bees were going to launching massive attacks against people across the United States in just a few years.
I can say from personal experience raising my children that brainwashing has nothing to do with respect for people of different sexual orientations. In my family’s social circle, there are five same sex couples that we interact with on a regular basis. I usually don’t think of them that way, actually, but just as so-and-so’s moms or so-and-so’s dads. They’re just couples, like any other.
That’s how my kids see them too, but it’s not because I’ve brainwashed them. My children have grown up seeing real homosexual couples as neighbors, as parents of their friends, and as coworkers of their parents.
Starting at around the age of 4 or 5, my kids have noticed that some people have two mothers or two fathers, and they’ve asked why. They weren’t upset about it, or disgusted about it, they were just curious. The question comes up in the same category as “Why are trees green?” or “Why do dogs have four legs?” or “How come I can’t fly?”
My wife and I didn’t need to respond by taking out their little brains at night and washing them in liberal political juices. We just explained, in a sentence or two, that most people fall in love with someone of the opposite gender, but some people fall in love with people of their own gender. That’s it.
You know what? The children understood it right away. They didn’t struggle against any inherent immorality in the idea. They just said, “Oh,” or talked about how they were going to marry a friend in Kindergarten, or something like that.
My kids have been accepting of same-sex couples simply because there isn’t any reason for them not to. I worry about the strange social world that Carl Paladino has isolated himself in, not to experience firsthand the absolute normalcy of homosexual couples. He’s running for Governor of New York State, not Governor of Alabama. If Paladino is so out of touch with what’s going on in the lives of New Yorkers that he thinks that children are being brainwashed to accept the existence of homosexuality and same-sex couples, what else doesn’t he understand?