The United States has grown tolerant enough to elect a gay president in the near future, according to former President Jimmy Carter, a Nobel Laureate

"Well, I think the entire population of America has come tremendous strides forward in dealing with the issue of gays," Carter told BigThink.

Carter said he doesn't expect a gay candidate to run in the 2012 presidential election, but thinks it will be possible "in the near future."

"Because step-by-step we have realized that this issue of homosexuality has the same adverse and progressive elements as when we dealt with the race issue 50 years ago or 40 years ago," he added. "So I would say that the country is getting acclimated to a President who might be female, who might obviously, now be black and who might be as well, a gay person."

On Wednesday, the US House of Representatives voted to repeal the policy banning gays from serving openly in the military, known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Carter urged the Department of Defense to repeal the policy in 2007.

"The nation’s commitment to human rights requires that lawmakers revisit 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' the current policy that prevents lesbians, gays and bisexuals from serving openly in our armed forces," he told the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

Carter told Big Think that his biggest failure as president was not getting re-elected.

"I learned two things; one is that you ought not to ever let American hostages be held for 444 days in a foreign country without extracting them," he said. "And I think another lesson I learned is, I should have paid more attention to the organization of the Democratic Party. I was not only the leader of our nation, but I was also the leader of the Democratic Party. And I think I failed in that respect to keep the party united."

The former president also said the US has "become increasingly addicted to consumption of goods that we don’t produce ourselves" and that too many of our manufacturing jobs have been lost to overseas competitors, including the production of "advanced, cutting-edge technological products."

"For instance, when I was in office, we had the pre-eminent position in the production of alternative sources of energy—windmills, and photovoltaic cells, things of that kind," Carter said. "Now that ascendancy has moved to China. China's the number one producer of new kinds of advanced photovoltaic cells, for instance. And they are the number one producers of advanced windmills."

The full interview can be viewed at BigThink.