Former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Sunday said that the debate over rights for LGBT people was "one sided" because Catholics were also being oppressed.

During a panel discussion on NBC's Meet the Press about gay NBA player Jason Collins, Gingrich quickly tried to change the subject from equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans to religious discrimination.

"I haven't heard you say if you think a Republican nominee for president can support gay marriage," NBC host David Gregory asked Gingrich.

"I doubt it," the former House Speaker replied. "I think that's up in the air, because I do think things are changing."

"But what I'm struck with is the one-sidedness of the desire for rights," Gingrich continued. "There are no rights for Catholics to have adoption services in Massachusetts, they're outlawed. There are no rights in D.C. for Catholics to have adoption services, they're outlawed. This passing reference to religion -- 'We sort of respect religion.' Well, sure. As long as you don't practice it."

"I think it will be good to have a debate over -- beyond this question of are you able to be gay in America, what does it mean? Does it mean that you actually have to affirmatively eliminate any institution which does not automatically accept that?"

The Grio Managing Editor Joy Reid pointed out that Catholic charities in Massachusetts had made the decision to halt all adoptions to prevent same sex couples from becoming parents.

"They withdrew them because they were told that you cannot follow Catholic doctrine, which is for marriage between a man and a woman," Gingrich insisted.

"I think the point is that you don't have the state telling religion what to believe," Reid observed. "If they oppose the idea of gay marriage within their religion they have the absolute right to do so. The question is whether or not religious institutions can make public policy."

"If the church is going to make our public policy, are we any longer a secular state?"

Watch this video from NBC's Meet the Press, broadcast May 5, 2013.