Yesterday in a Meet the Press debate with Michael Bennet, Ken Buck misspoke. Badly. When asked by moderator David Gregory if he thought homosexuality is a choice Buck said he believed it is and went on to compare homosexuality to alcoholism.
GREGORY: Do you believe that being gay is a choice?
BUCK: I do.
GREGORY: Based on what?
BUCK: Based on what? I guess you can choose who your partner is.
GREGORY: You don’t think it’s something that’s determined at birth?
BUCK: I think that birth has an influence over it, like alcoholism and some other things, but I think that basically, you have a choice.
What possessed Buck to use alcoholism – a disease that comes with all kinds of negative connotations – I’ll never know. He seemed to realize quickly that it was not a good analogy to make. Buck told reporters after the show that he “wasn’t talking about being gay as a disease,” he said, “I don’t think that at all.” He also clarified that he believes that there is “some element of predisposition” in being gay. And, he noted wryly that “there’s no doubt there will probably be a commercial on something like that” from Dems on his remarks.
The question grew out of Buck’s remarks in a debate last month in support of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell because he believes the military should be “as homogenous as possible” and that the country should not get distracted in talking about “lifestyle choices.”
Buck has made a convincing case to voters that he is not the “extreme” Tea Party candidate Bennet has asserted he is. Buck maintains a slight lead in polls of 2 percentage points, according to a RealClearPolitics.com average of Colorado polls. In this, though, gay groups say his views are dangerously extreme. Social issues have dormant thus far in the campaign, but Buck’s remarks seem to have woken a sleeping tiger. Gay and civil rights groups condemned the remarks. And surely, Buck will be further pressed on how much he believes being gay is a choice and how much it is predisposition from birth. If the debate is about jobs and President Obama, Buck is better positioned to win than if he’s talking about gay rights and other social issues. His challenge now will be to bring the focus back to the economy.