Republican presidential frontrunner Herman Cain has repeatedly said he believes being gay is a choice, suggesting he’s seen no science that says otherwise. In an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan that aired last night, he reiterated this faulty belief, and when Morgan pushed him that race and sexual orientation were comparable, Cain explained that race is different because it “doesn’t wash off”:
CAIN: I respect their right to make that choice. You don’t see me bashing them or anything like that. I respect their right to make that choice. I don’t have to agree with it. That’s all I’m saying.
MORGAN: It would be like a gay person saying, Herman, you made a choice to be black.
CAIN: We know that’s not the case. I was born black.
MORGAN: Yes, maybe if they said that, you would find it offensive.
CAIN: Piers, this doesn’t wash off. I hate to burst your bubble.
Of course, not only is there science that shows being gay is not a choice and doesn’t “wash off,” there is scientific consensus about the enduring nature of any sexual orientation. Homosexuality is no more likely to “wash off” than heterosexuality. As Harvey Milk said decades ago defending gay teachers, “If it were true that children emulate their teachers, we’d have a lot more nuns running around.” Cain’s comments continue the religious right’s harmful spread of misinformation and the demonization of gay people for political gain.