Rep. Steve King said Sunday that he regretted the Arizona governor's veto on the state's religious freedom bill, arguing that homosexuality is a "self-professed behavior" that can be willfully changed.
"You're an individual entrepreneur with God-given rights that our founders defined in the Declaration of Independence," the Iowa Republican said during an interview with WHO-TV, Right Wing Watch reported. "You should be able to make your own decisions with what you do in that private business."
Mr. King argued that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes no mention of sexual orientation.
"And there's nothing mentioned in there on self-professed behavior," he said. "And that's what they're trying to perfect, is special rights for self-professed behavior. And I think it's difficult for us to define a law that would protect self-professed behavior."
When asked whether he thought being gay was a choice, Mr. King said he wasn't sure.
"I think it exists across the continuum in some type of a curve, and I don't know what that curve actually looks like," he said. "I think some's nature and some's nurture. Some might be purely each. But I think a lot of it is a combination of nature and nurture."
"If it's not specifically protected in the Constitution," he said of civil rights protections, "then it's got to be an immutable characteristic, that being a characteristic that can be independently verified and cannot be willfully changed."
Mr. King also argued that hate-crime legislation is a "murky" area of the law where people are punished "for what you think went on in their head at the time they perpetuated a crime."
"We've not gone that way until the modern era, and I think it gets very messy," he said.
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