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Sen. Marco Rubio, 2016 Republican presidential hopefulChristopher Halloran /

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 20, 2015 ( – This weekend, Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio said that one's “sexual preference” is an inborn trait and cannot be chosen.

“You have said you're against gay 'marriage,'” interviewer Bob Schieffer said, casting his eyes away from the Florida senator, to each side on CBS's Face the Nation this weekend. “Do you think that homosexuality is a choice?”

“It's not that I'm against gay marriage, but I believe the definition of the institution of marriage should be between one man and one woman,” Rubio began.

He said those who wish to change the immemorial definition of marriage should engage in a “political debate” and win others to their side, not impose their views from above. “I don't believe that courts should be making that decision, and I don't believe same-sex marriage is a constitutional right.”

Then he answered Schieffer's question about genetics.

“I also don't believe that your sexual preferences are a choice for the vast, enormous majority of people,” the first-term senator said. “In fact, the bottom line is that I believe that sexual preference is something that people are born with.”

“Senator, we thank you,” Schieffer said, smiling.

Social conservatives had a different reaction to the remarks, made at Manchester Community College, where Rubio campaigned in advance of the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primaries. American Family Radio talk show host Bryan J. Fischer said Rubio was wrong factually, which could lead to political miscalculations.

No less than eight major studies of identical twins in the U.S., Scandinavia, and Australia over the last two decades” all arrived “at the same conclusion: gays aren't born that way,” Fischer said in response.

The American Psychiatric Association – hardly an “anti-gay” organization – states, “No one knows what causes heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality.”

Public sentiment, long nurtured to believe that homosexuality is a genetic condition, has begun to catch up. Now, a declining minority of Americans believe homosexuality is an inborn trait. According to the Gallup organization, the number fell from 47 percent to 42 percent in 2014.

Even Australian-born UK homosexual activist Peter Tatchell wrote in 2008: “Genes and hormones may predispose a person to one sexuality rather than another. But that’s all. Predisposition and determination are two different things.”

Analysts believe that experts have not spent enough time researching childhood traumas as a potential influence on sexual preference. The APA's statement, issued in May 2000, declares that “sexual abuse does not appear to be more prevalent in children who grow up to identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, than in children who identify as heterosexual.” However, a 2010 study conducted at Otago University in New Zealand found that homosexuals were more likely to have suffered childhood traumas – such as molestation, abuse, or domestic violence – than heterosexuals.

The issue of choice in homosexuality is important for public policy outcomes, Fischer said.

“If homosexual behavior is a choice, then our public policy can freely be shaped by an honest look at whether this behavioral choice is healthy and should be encouraged or unhealthy and dangerous and consequently discouraged,” he said.

Then he added his own “bottom line”: homosexuality is not a “behavior that any rational society should condone, endorse, subsidize, reward, promote or sanction in domestic policy or in the marketplace.

“Social conservatives need and deserve a candidate who will base his social policy agenda on genetics, science, biology, the best in health research, and on biblical morality,” Fischer said. “Senator Rubio has failed that test.”

Rubio's comment was one of several in a week to give social conservatives pause.

Last Tuesday, CNN's Jake Tapper aggressively targeted Rubio's opposition to imposing same-sex “marriage” at the national level. “You are casting yourself as a candidate of a new generation, but there is an issue where you are very out of step with younger voters,” Tapper said. “On that issue, same-sex marriage, senator, you’re the candidate of yesterday.”

Rubio retorted that he had not “ever supported a federal constitutional amendment that defined marriage” as the union of one man and one woman, “because I believe states define marriage in their laws.”

The next day Rubio said that, while he opposes same-sex “marriage,” he would attend a same-sex “wedding” ceremony if a relative or close friend extended an invitation.    

The question led to a feeding frenzy of similar questions to other 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls.

During the interview, Rubio addressed the difficulty of potentially running against his friend and onetime mentor, Jeb Bush. Bush, who helped guide Rubio through his early career in Florida politics, he said, would always remain a personal friend.

Rubio's greatest potential pitfall with Republican voters stems, not from social issues, but from his embrace of providing amnesty to illegal immigrants. As a key sponsor of the so-called “Gang of Eight” immigration bill, Rubio lost much of the status as a spokesman for grassroots Republicans, who overwhelmingly oppose the bill.

The exchange may be seen in the video below:

Rubio's remarks begin at 9:16.