Huffpost Gay Voices

Ashleigh Banfield, CNN Anchor, Calls Being Gay A Voluntary 'Lifestyle Choice,' Says She 'Mangled Words'

Posted: Updated:

CNN news anchor Ashleigh Banfield says she was misunderstood after she stated that being gay was a "lifestyle choice" and "voluntary" during an "Early Start" segment this week.

The offending remarks came during the May 31 broadcast, following a segment about Curtis Knapp, the infamous Kansas pastor who called for gays "to be put to death" in a recent sermon, audio footage of which has since gone viral on the Internet. Commenting on Knapp's comparison of homosexuality with incest and pedophilia, Banfield noted, "Pedophilia is not by choice, last I checked."

She continued, "Again, we gotta outline here, when he says 'They punish incest and pedophilia.' Please! Those things are often not by choice and are crimes. Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice by people. It is voluntary."

Watch footage of Banfield's remarks here, then scroll down to keep reading:

Mediaite quickly posted footage of Banfield's statements, while a number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media outlets followed suit with their own reports -- among them The Advocate, Towleroad and Queerty.

Banfield first responded on Twitter, calling her remarks a misunderstanding:


Ashleigh Banfield
2B clear, being gay is not a choice. Being in a consensual relationship is. Ie; not a crime. I disagree with the pastor and wasn't clear.

Ashleigh Banfield
Need 2 clarify. Incest and pedophelia are CRIMES & victims have no choice. Being gay is not. Relatnshps r by choice. Way of life not crime.

She also backtracked on her remarks on "Early Start" today, noting: "I made some comments yesterday that ended up getting a lot of traction out there, not only on Twitter but elsewhere. And I want to be very, very clear about what my comments were about. I probably misspoke and mangled words, but I want to be very clear."

She continued:

"When I said that incest and pedophilia involve people who don’t have a choice -- victims who don’t have a choice -- and then said a gay relationship, you do have a choice, they are not crimes. Gay people involved in relationships are not committing any crimes at all. However, those who perpetrate incest and perpetrate pedophilia are committing crimes. I don’t know that my comments were taken in that light and I certainly hope they were, but in no way did I ever want to suggest that being gay is a choice."

Watch video of her clarification below:

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article indicated that Knapp is from Indiana. He is actually from Kansas.