Nevada Assembly Speaker-designate Ira Hansen is being criticized for remarks he made last year comparing being gay to bestiality and prostitution.

On November 7, the Assembly's new Republican majority picked Hansen as their candidate for speaker. The caucus will vote in February.

This week, Hansen was forced to apologize for sexist, misogynist, homophobic and racist writings after the News Review took a detailed look at his 13-year career as a columnist for the Sparks Tribune.

“I am deeply sorry that comments I have made in the past have offended many Nevadans. It is unfortunate that these comments, made almost 20 years ago as a newspaper columnist and talk radio host, have been taken out of context and are being portrayed as intentionally hurtful and disrespectful,” Hansen wrote in a statement.

However, the Review Journal pointed out that Hansen left the paper in 2010 and produced a letter written last year in which Hansen objects to a legislative attempt to repeal Nevada's ban on gay marriage. (The ban fell last month and gay couples can now marry in Nevada.)

In the letter, Hansen insists being gay is a behavior, much like adultery, prostitution, pedophilia, incest, pederasty, bigamy and bestiality.

“No one is 'born' as a member of these so-called 'minority' groups,” Hansen wrote. “Like all sexual behaviors, people have to choose to do them. Thus, people who engage in homosexuality are not a 'minority' any more than adulterers are a minority. Would prostitutes be classified as an historically discriminated against 'minority' for special treatment under law?”

He added that “homosexual conduct shortens lives by 15 to 20 years.”

“[T]hese things were not uttered 20 years ago in a bid to get readers of a Northern Nevada newspaper to read his stuff,” the Review Journal's Steve Sebelius wrote. “They were written just last year, on official letterhead, as Hansen acting in his official capacity sought to influence the course of debate on an issue of public policy.”