Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has suggested that being is a choice.

The 50-year-old candidate for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination objects to gay marriage and giving gay and lesbian couples the same benefits as married couples.

Earlier this year, Pawlenty created controversy when he said as president he would work to reinstate “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the 1993 law that bans gay and bisexual troops from serving openly.

And during last month's presidential debate, he said he supports a federal amendment banning gay marriage.

But last week, Pawlenty shocked when he praised Lady Gaga, telling reporters that her gay anthem Born This Way was among his favorites. The pop star has been criticized by social conservatives for her strong support of gay rights.

During a Sunday appearance on Meet the Press, host David Gregory asked Pawlenty if he believes sexual orientation is a choice.

“Is being gay a choice?” Gregory asked after referring to his earlier praise of Lady Gaga.

“Well, the science in that regard is in dispute,” he responded. “I mean, scientists work on that and try to figure out if it's behavior or if it's partly genetic …”

“What do you think?” Gregory interrupted.

“Well, I defer to the scientists in that regard.”

“So you think it's not a choice? That you are, as Lady Gaga says, you're born that way,” Gregory asked.

“There's no scientific conclusion that it's genetic,” Pawlenty answered. “We don't know that.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page.)

Commenting on Pawlenty's remarks, progressive blog wrote: “All major medical professional organizations agree that sexual orientation is not a choice and cannot be changed, from gay to straight or otherwise.”

We would add that the only organizations suggesting that the evidence is inconclusive are anti-gay groups.

(Related: Michele Bachmann refuses to answer whether she believes being gay is a choice.)