The Governor of New Mexico and Democratic Presidential hopeful Bill Richardson shifted into damage control mode on Friday, admitting that he “screwed up” when he said being gay was a choice during Logo’s televised Presidential forum on gay rights.

Richardson apologised to the gay community during interviews with Michelangelo Signorile, host of a SIRIUS Satellite Radiow show OutQ; Kerry Eleveld, news editor of The Advocate; and Andrew Belonsky, editor of the blog Queerty.com

After forum panellist Melissa Etheridge asked Richardson twice if he thought people where born homosexual or choose it, his “choice” answer produced an audible gasp from the studio audience.

In his OutQ interview, Richardson said:

“I screwed up. I didn’t understand the question. I had flown all night from New Hampshire, that shouldn’t be an excuse, but I made a mistake, I screwed up.

“What I believe is that this is an issue that you’re born with. It’s not a choice, it’s not a lifestyle, and I didn’t understand the question.

“What I thought that the question was, and this was my mind at the time, that there was an implication that politics intervenes with science.

“And, I always love the word choice. I’m for freedom of choice, I have in my health care plan a choice where everybody can keep their health care plan. And so I always kind of feel it’s a golden word, and I didn’t think through what Melissa was asking me. I didn’t understand the question.

“I think I should be judged on my actions. My actions are I’ve got the best gay-lesbian record of any governor and the best gay-lesbian record of any of the presidential candidates.”

Directly after the forum, Richardson’s campaign issued a clarification that read:

“Let me be clear, I do not believe that sexual orientation or gender identity happen by choice,” Richardson’s statement read.

“But I’m not a scientist, and the point I was trying to make is that no matter how it happens, we are all equal and should be treated that way under the law. That is what I believe, that is what I have spent my career fighting for. I ask that people look at my record and my actions, and they will see I have been a true supporter of the LGBT community.”

Anthony Cuesta © 2007 GayWired.com; All Rights Reserved.