Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich suggested Thursday that being gay is a choice. At least for some people.
Asked if people can choose to be gay, Gingrich told the Des Moines Register editorial board that he does not "believe in genetic determinism, and I don't think there is any great evidence of genetic determinism."
He said that certain people may choose to be gay if they have certain genetic traits and are raised in a certain environment.
"I think people have a significant range of choice within a genetic pattern," he said. "I believe it's a combination of genetics and environment. I think that both are involved. I think people have many ranges of choices."
Gingrich's appears to be saying people can choose to be gay if they have certain "propensities" and genetic and environmental characteristics. Asked if people can choose to be straight, he responded, "Look, people choose to be celibate."
"People choose many things in life," he said. "You know, there is a bias in favor of non-celibacy. It's part of how the species recreates. And yet there is a substantial amount of people who choose celibacy either out of religious vocation or for other reasons."
Video of the comments, via Think Progress, is above. The portion discussed above starts at the 5:00 mark.
Earlier in the interview, Gingrich was asked if he saw a correlation between the civil rights and gay rights movements. He called the parallel "ludicrous" and "offensive," saying no one is trying to segregate gay Americans. The former House speaker added that his position reflects "a 3,000 year tradition that is very deep in our culture for very profound reasons."
"I think there's an enormous difference between an inescapable fact of race...and a question about culture," he said. "A question about 'what are your values?' I think marriage is between a man and a woman. That's a value proposition."
"There's a big difference between saying that you are going to have an acceptance of people's lifestyle and saying you now are going to normalize that as the standard for the whole country," he continued, before reiterating his support for reinstating the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
Gingrich, whose half-sister Candace Gingrich-Jones is gay, earlier this week said he