Republican presidential non-hopeful John Kasich was in the Bay Area along with the rest of his compadres this weekend for the state Republican convention, and he spoke Friday at an event at the Commonwealth Club where he got a bit flustered at a question that came from a gay man in the crowd, Kelly Bryan. Bryan took the mic during the Q&A portion and asked, "Do you believe that some people are born gay?" Kasich, who has come out against gay marriage, first tried to avoid answering the question directly, and then decided to go ahead and try, poorly, to do so, as seen in the video above.
In full, as NBC News reports, the audience member said, "I'm a 62-year-old gay man who came out to both of my parents at 19. And I've been gay for 45, over 40 years. Gay people are human beings and not a lifestyle choice. Please respond without prayer being an answer."
Kasich did, in fact, bring religion into it, saying, "we'd all be better off in this country if we prayed more," but added, "In terms of me, I don't believe in discrimination, I think there is a balance, however, between discrimination and people's religious liberties." And he said everyone needed to "take a chill pill, relax, and try to get along with one another a little bit better instead of trying to write some law to solve a problem that doesn't frankly exist in big enough numbers to justify more lawmaking." It's unclear what that "problem" he was referring to is.
Flustering Kasich further, Bryan continued to press him on the fact that the Republican Party as a whole has come out against gay marriage, and Kasich said, lamely, saying he believed in "traditional marriage" but had attended a gay wedding once.
"You have free regular rights," he said, "I'm not denying you any rights in Ohio. I'm not out to discriminate against you. I think you ought to have as good a life as anybody else."
Ultimately, Kasich admitted that "probably" people are born gay. "I mean, I don't, I don't know how it all works, okay?" he said. "I mean, look. Are they? You know, probability [sic] they are. Okay?"
CBS 5 asked Mr. Bryan if Kasich's answer satisfied him and he said, "I simply wanted it to be answered that gay people are born gay and that it is not a lifestyle."
Amusing sidebar: In covering this little kerfuffle, Vanity Fair's Charles Bramesco refers to Kasich as "a slightly cooler-headed, moderate alternative to the sentient orange cyclone and former Munsters cast member against which he’s campaigning."