Fresh off his keynote speech at the Faith And Freedom Conference in Washington last weekend, Herman Cain took a socially conservative hardline stance on sexual orientation in an interview with CBS News.
“I believe homosexuality is a sin because I’m a Bible-believing Christian, I believe it’s a sin,” Cain said, adding, “I believe it is a choice.”
This puts Cain right in the sweet spot for evangelical voters, but perhaps on the wrong side of the American electorate.
Recent polling has shown Americans are more tolerant of gays and lesbians than ever before. Americans are increasingly comfortable with same-sex couples getting married and raising children. When the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy was ended in Congress last year, the public was overwhelmingly on board.
Nevertheless, Cain and his fellow contenders for the Republican presidential nomination have to win over conservative primary voters, who remain less comfortable with gays and lesbians than the overall population. So you’re not going to see any of the candidates advocating gay marriage anytime soon (though former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman does support civil unions).
Still, Cain’s statement to CBS puts him to the right of the field. This week, frontrunner Mitt Romney dodged questions about whether or not he believes homosexuality is a sin in an interview with CNN.
“Nice try, but I’m not going to get into that,” Romney said. “I’m not here in a religious context, I’m here as a candidate for president, and as a candidate for president or as a president I have to represent the interests of all the people.”
At an event in Iowa last month, Tim Pawlenty also dodged a question about whether or not he thinks homosexuality is a sin.
Newt Gingrich has taken a similar hard line to Cain’s in the past, agreeing that homosexuality is “an abomination to God” and a sin but still supporting rights for gay couples like hospital visitation.
Rick Santorum is probably the most vocal of the candidates on the subject, and his view is decidedly opposed.
Cain may think that homosexuality is a sin and a choice, but he says that won’t preclude him from appointing gays and lesbians to his cabinet, should it ever come to that.
Watch Cain talk sin and choice: