You were born a Christian, not born gay. Religion is not a choice.

Or so the spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) would have you believe. Questioned about why the House's top Republican opposes a hate crimes bill penalizing violence against gays, his spokesman said he "supports existing federal protections (based on race, religion, gender, etc) based on immutable characteristics," just not protections for things like being gay -- which conservatives occasionally claim is a choice.

"He does not support adding sexual orientation to the list of protected classes," Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith added. The statement was made in an email to CBS News.

In other words, religion is a trait you're born with.

Gays and their supporters contest the assertion that being gay is a "choice," asking why individuals would deliberately choose to be gay in a society that often treats them as second-class citizens.

Republicans who oppose hate crimes legislation say they do so because they think it is criminalizing "thought."

"All violent crimes should be prosecuted vigorously, no matter what the circumstance," Boehner said during debate on the issue. "The Democrats' 'thought crimes' legislation, however, places a higher value on some lives than others. Republicans believe that all lives are created equal, and should be defended with equal vigilance."

CBS also points out that Smith's claim that Boehner supports existing hate crimes laws for "immutable" characteristics such as gender isn't accurate, because gender isn't currently a protected class under federal law.

What does House Republican caucus leader Tom Price think of the bill?

It's an "absolute disgrace," Price said.