President Obama today told an audience of young people during an MTV town hall that he doesn't believe being gay or transsexual is a choice.
"I don't profess to be an expert," the president said in response to a question on the matter. "I don't think it's a choice. I think people are born with a certain make up, and we're all children of God."
He continued that he believes "we don't make determinations about who we love. That's why I think discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is wrong."
The Obama administration has facedfrom gay rights advocates for its lack of progress on issues like repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy and its defense of the Defense of Marriage Act in court.
White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett came under fire for remarking that a gay teen who committed suicide suffered because of his "lifestyle choice;" she subsequently apologized for the comment and said she does not believe that sexual orientation is a lifestyle choice.
The president was also pressed during the MTV town hall about his lack of action on "don't ask, don't tell." An audience member asked why the president has not signed an executive order to end the policy, just as President Harry Truman signed an executive order to desegregate the military.
Mr. Obama responded that "don't ask, don't tell" presented a different situation: "Congress explicitly passed a law that took away power of the executive branch to end this policy unilaterally," he said. It is "not a situation where with a stroke of the pen I can end this policy."
Advocates for ending "don't ask, don't tell" have asserted that the law on the books actually allows the executive branch, specifically the Secretary of Defense, to determine how and when to enforce the policy.A federal judge this week issued a worldwide injunction stopping enforcement of "don't ask, don't tell", but Mr. Obama's Justice Department just this afternoon asked the judge to allow the policy on gays to continue during an appeal. In court papers, according to the Associated Press, the Obama administration says the case raises serious legal questions and that the government would be irreparably harmed if the policy were immediately undone.
The president said that the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" should be conducted in an "orderly" way "because we are in a war right now." He insisted, however, "This policy will end, and it will end on my watch."
Washington Unplugged Talks to MTV's Sway Calloway About the Town Hall Below:
Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.