Scott Walker doesn’t “have an opinion” on whether being gay is a choice

On Sunday, Scott Walker turned another straightforward question into advanced calculus when CNN’s Dana Bash asked him if he thought being gay is a choice.

The question came in light of Walker’s disagreement with the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to lift its ban on openly gay scout leaders on the grounds that the ban “protected children.” Faced with predictable backlash over the implication that openly gay men are a danger to children, Walker issued a patently absurd clarification claiming that he didn’t mean “protected children” as in “kept gay men from molesting children;” he meant it as in “shielded children from the debate about whether the ban was a good idea.”

Right.

In any case, here’s the exchange between Bash and Walker on whether being gay is a choice:

Bash: Do you think that being gay is a choice?

Walker: Oh, I mean I think — that’s not even an issue for me to be involved in. The bottom line is, I’m going to stand up and work hard for every American regardless of who they are, no matter where they come from, no matter what their background. I’m going to fight for people whether they vote for me or not.

Bash: On behalf of people to do that properly you have to understand or at least have an opinion on who they are and where they’re coming from.

Walker: But again, I think — no, I don’t have an opinion on every single issue out there. I mean to me that’s — I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that question. So, I’m saying I don’t know what the answer to that is. And I’m going to spend my time focused on things that I do know and I can work on.

As David Badash at The New Civil Rights Movement was quick to point out, Scott Walker has a lesbian cousin. If he isn’t sure whether being gay is a choice, it wouldn’t be all that difficult to ask her. Of course, this is the same cousin whose wedding Walker didn’t attend (although he did show up for the reception), so it appears as though Walker’s lack of exposure to and knowledge of LGBT people and their identities is, well, his own personal choice.

But Walker’s shoulder-shrugging on the basic premise of the question is far from the only thing wrong with his answer — and the question itself. Walker framed the nature of same-sex attraction as “an issue” on which he doesn’t have an “opinion,” when in fact it isn’t an issue up for debate. As John Oliver would say, you don’t ask people’s opinions about a fact. Dana Bash certainly knows this, meaning that the only reason she asked Walker the question was the (likely) possibility of him getting it wrong.

Scott Walker, via DonkeyHotey / Flickr

Scott Walker, via DonkeyHotey / Flickr

Second, Walker claimed that he’s “going to stand up and work hard for every American regardless of who they are, no matter where they come from, no matter what their background,” when his positions with respect to the LGBT community suggest the exact opposite. Walker, over the objections of his wife and children, supports a constitutional amendment that would allow states to ban same-sex marriage. If he’s at least open to the possibility that being sexual orientation isn’t a choice, which would make same-sex marriage a fundamental right, why would he support allowing states to ban it?

Third, Walker is running for President of the United States. He has shown that he is more than willing to fill the role of decider in chief on issues on which he knows absolutely nothing, like the recently-announced Iran deal. Why should he get to give himself a pass on sexual orientation and gender identity, which will continue to have major policy implications into the next presidential term and beyond?

As President, you don’t always get to “spend [your] time focused on things that [you] do know and [you] can work on.” If you don’t know enough about an issue at hand, you talk to people who do and you read the hell up in order to make an informed decision.

If Scott Walker can’t get that process right on a question as simple and as settled as whether being gay is a choice, how is he supposed to get it right on anything else?


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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