Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee who is currently on the campaign trail for the Republican nomination for US President, has been challenged by NBC’s Meet the Press on his stance on gay rights.

“I don’t know whether people are born that way. People who are gay say that they’re born that way. But one thing I know, that the behaviour one practices is a choice,” he told host Tim Russert.

A video clip of the encounter is found below the transcript of the conversation.

Tim Russert: This is what you wrote in your book, “Kids Who Kill,” in 1998: “It is now difficult to keep track of the vast array of publicly endorsed and institutionally supported aberrations–from homosexuality and paedophilia to sadomasochism and necrophilia.” Why would you link homosexuality with sadomasochism, paedophilia and necrophilia?

Mike Huckabee: Well, what I was pointing out is all of these are deviations from what has been the traditional concept of sexual behaviour and men and women having children, raising those children in the context of a, of a traditional marriage and family. And, again, taken out of the larger context of that book, speaking about how so many of our social institutions have been broken down.

Tim Russert: But do you think homosexuality is equivalent to paedophilia…

Mike Huckabee: Oh, of course not.

Tim Russert: …or sadomasochism?

Mike Huckabee: No, of course not. I didn’t say…

Tim Russert: But this is what concerns people. This, this is what you did say about homosexuality: “I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle.” That’s millions of Americans.

Mike Huckabee: Tim, understand, when a Christian speaks of sin, a Christian says all of us are sinners. I’m a sinner, everybody’s a sinner. What one’s sin is, means it’s missing the mark. It’s missing the bull’s eye, the perfect point. I miss it every day; we all do. The perfection of God is seen in a marriage in which one man, one woman live together as a couple committed to each other as life partners. Now, even married couples don’t do that perfectly, so sin is not some act of equating people with being murderers or rapists…

Tim Russert: But when you say aberrant or unnatural, do you believe you’re born gay or you choose to be gay?

Mike Huckabee: I don’t know whether people are born that way. People who are gay say that they’re born that way. But one thing I know, that the behaviour one practices is a choice. We may have certain tendencies, but how we behave and how we carry out our behaviour–but the important issue that I want to address, because I think when you bring up the faith question, Tim, I’ve been asked more about my faith than any person running for president. I’m OK with that. I hope I’ve answered these questions very candidly and very honestly. I think it’s important for us to talk about it. But the most important thing is to find out, does our faith influence our public policy and how? I’ve never tried to rewrite science textbooks. I’ve never tried to come out with some way of imposing a doctrinaire Christian perspective in a way that is really against the Constitution. I’ve never done that.