Like picking a flavor of ice cream, gay people can change their "sexual behavior," says Rep. Allen West, who has been in a fight with activists in his district about whether he's intolerant.
West made the comparison during an interview with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The interviewer brought up the dispute between the congressman and local activists who threatened to boycott businesses that were part of an association where he was scheduled to speak. The association eventually bowed to pressure and uninvited the Tea Party favorite.
"Is the issue of gay civil rights the same as the civil rights movement for African-Americans?" the interviewer is quoted as asking in a transcript.
"You cannot compare me and my race to a behavior," West answered. "I can't change my color. People can change their sexual behavior. And I've seen people do that."
Despite his views on whether being gay is a choice, his opposition to gay marriage and repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," West said "everyone has the same basic rights." And he said gay people shouldn't be forced to change who they are -- although his choice of metaphor seemed to imply again that being gay is merely a preference.
"I like chocolate chip ice cream and I will continue to like chocolate chip ice cream," he said. "So there's no worry about me changing to vanilla."
During the fight with local activists, West's wife came to his defense and pointed out in a web posting that West's "close relative is gay and married to his partner -- we love and adore them both."
West was asked about whether he recognizes the marriage of his brother-in-law, who he tells the Sun-Sentinel was given a license by California.
"I'm not a a judge," he said. "I'm not the justice of the peace. So if they're married, they're married, OK? Nothing I can do about it."