What Republican Candidates Have Said About LGBT Rights, And Man, Some Of These Are Pretty Stupid

Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker appeared on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday, and while the interview was an opportunity for the Wisconsin governor to set himself apart from an overcrowded GOP field, Walker instead made a considerable impression after becoming flustered following a series of questions regarding the Boy Scouts lifting their ban on gay scout leaders. Walker admitted that he doesn't have "an opinion on every single issue out there" and that he wasn't sure if homosexuality was a choice or not. There is much amiss in the Republican Party when it comes to gay rights and what Republican candidates have to say about LGBT rights isn't very encouraging.

While many Republican candidates appear to have softened their opinions in regards to gay marriage, it appears to primarily be a tactical move rather than a changing of ideals. Presidential hopefuls like Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham have instead framed the issue based on electability over substance. However, some of the most vocal candidates against marriage equality also happen to be the most opinionated about sexual orientation itself. At least five GOP candidates have spoken out about the issue, many of whom consider being gay or straight or any other designation a simple choice or matter of preference.

Mike Huckabee

Perhaps the most prolific in his bizarre anti-gay proclamations is Mike Huckabee, who has likened homosexuality to drinking, swearing, polygamy, and prostitution. In short, he believes sexual orientation is a lifestyle choice and one that he doesn't agree with:

Ben Carson

Neurosurgeon and political newcomer Ben Carson initially took a surprisingly unscientific approach to the idea of sexual orientation. Though there is no definitive consensus as to what determines whether a person is gay or straight, Carson said that he unequivocally believes homosexuality is a choice. His explanation? Incarceration. Carson said in a CNN interview earlier this year:

Carson did subsequently apologize for his comments, though he's now vowed to stay mum on all LGBT issues this election cycle, a counterproductive move that eliminates an entire key issue from his political platform.

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz is right there with Huckabee in thinking that sexual orientation is ultimately a choice, issuing a statement in 2012 that instead focuses primarily on defending the sanctity of marriage. Though Cruz ultimately feels that states should get to decide whether or not to allow gay marriage, he is still committed to defending its tradition definition. Cruz told a reporter from the San Antonio Express-News:

Rick Perry

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry also appears to align with Cruz, though his choice of wording regarding homosexuality is eerily reminiscent of Huckabee's colorful language. Perry took the stage at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco last year to outline some of his policies, including his stance on gay marriage. In one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the world, Perry shocked his audience when he likened being gay to having a predisposition to addiction:

Rick Santorum

Former Sen. Rick Santorum takes a more convoluted approach toward explaining sexual orientation. He claims he's perfectly fine with someone being gay so long as they essentially ignore their sexuality altogether. Santorum appears as one of the original voices cautioning against marriage equality for fear of it opening our society to bestiality and worse. Said Santorum said the following in a 2003 Associated Press interview:

In more recent news, Santorum has explicitly stated that he would not attend a gay wedding, as it would violate his beliefs, a statement that somewhat harkens back to his 2003 comments.

Images: John Pemble (3), Marc Nozell (1), Gage Skidmore (1), Ed Schipul (1)/Flickr