By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com July 10 2011 2:45 PM ET
Maybe Tim Pawlenty doesn't listen to the words of his favorite songs. Today he was caught off guard when asked to defend his self-professed love for Lady Gaga's Born This Way, an explicitly pro–gay rights song that could be heard at Pride festivals nationwide in June.
In an earlier interview, Pawlenty told the ladies of Glittarazzi (totally unprovoked, by the way) that he loves Mother Monster, despite her weirdness and her politics. Pawlenty even said he'd watched Gaga's HBO concert special.
"I have a question for you guys, are you ready? What's your favorite Lady Gaga song?" The ladies made their picks before Pawlenty egged them on, "How about 'Born This Way,' the new one, you like that?"
The former governor of Minnesota is apparently a fan.
"In terms of the beat, you know, I like 'Bad Romance.' I gotta say, even though she is a little unusual, 'Born This Way' has got some appeal."
That might have been what piqued the curiosity of Meet the Press moderator David Gregory today when he asked Pawlenty (whose home state will face a gay marriage ban on the ballot in 2012) whether he believes being gay is genetic. Gregory asked simply, "Is being gay a choice?" And Pawlenty stumbled to find an answer, before declaring that science is undecided and so is he.
Here's the complete exchange:
GREGORY: Let me ask you about social policy. You've notably said that you're a big fan of Lady Gaga, and even the song "Born This Way." There's a lot of debate about a gay marriage pledge in Iowa. And related to that, I wonder, do you agree with some of those who are behind that, that being gay is a choice?
PAWLENTY: Well, I have two teenage daughters who listen to Lady Gaga, so I'm subjected to it. And it has some good qualities to it. But as to, as to gay marriage, I'm in support of traditional marriage as between a man and a woman. I have not supported the issues of allowing gay couples to have the same benefits and public employment as traditional couples. And so this is an issue in Iowa and across the whole country. But I've stood in favor or traditional marriage and traditional relationships in that regard.
GREGORY: Is being gay a choice?
PAWLENTY: Well, the science in that regard is in dispute. I mean, the scientists work on that and try to figure out if it's behavioral ...
PAWLENTY: ... or if it's partly genetic.
GREGORY: What do you think?
PAWLENTY: Well, I defer to the scientists in that regard.
GREGORY: So you, you think it's not a choice.
PAWLENTY: Well, there is no ...
GREGORY: That you are, as Lady Gaga says, you're born that way.
PAWLENTY: There's no scientific conclusion that it's genetic. We don't know that. So we don't know to what extent, you know, it's behavioral, and that's something that's been debated by scientists for a long time. But as I understand the science, there's no current conclusion that it's genetic.