(CNN) – New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino apologized for comments "that may have offended the gay and lesbian community" after his remarks to an Orthodox Jewish group drew fire earlier this week.
The Republican candidate said he doesn't want children "to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option [compared with heterosexuality]. ... it isn't."
Andrew Cuomo, the New York attorney general and Paladino's Democratic opponent, criticized the remarks Sunday, as did advocate groups for gays and lesbians.
In a letter Tuesday, Paladino acknowledged that he made "mistakes" when he told Jewish leaders that children should not be "brainwashed" into thinking that homosexuality is an acceptable option.
"I sincerely apologize for any comment that may have offended the gay and lesbian community or their family members," he said in the letter. "Any reference to branding an entire community based on a small representation of them is wrong."
Paladino said if he is elected governor, he will fight for the rights of all New Yorkers.
Paladino also criticized Cuomo for marching in New York's gay pride parade in June.
Cuomo called Paladino's comments cynical and divisive.