SANTA FE (KRQE) – A state representative insists a comment attributed to him, about sexual orientation being a choice, was taken out of context.

The comment was made during a committee hearing about adding police officers to the state’s hate crime law. A meme posted by Equality New Mexico to the group’s Facebook page claims Rep. Rick Little, R-Chaparral, said, “People choose their sexual orientation so they shouldn’t be protected by hate crimes law.”

“A lot of the first part of my statement wasn’t in there,” insisted Little on Wednesday morning. “Most of the quote is about how I think a lot of people should be on the hate crimes bill, many more.”

The bill under discussion, HB 95, would increase penalties for those whose crimes intentionally targeted police officers. Currently, the law on the books gives extra protection to victims targeted because of actual or perceived race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.

“If we’re going to have a hate crime bill, which we have in New Mexico, we have across the nation, I believe police officers ought to be on it,” Little said.

But it was the comments on sexual orientation that have offended many, including openly gay Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque.

“The fact is that Rep. Little, with all due respect, is wrong,” Candelaria said. “I think his words send a really troubling message to the thousands of families across New Mexico that are LGBT who are raising kids, who own businesses and who are trying to live lives as productive New Mexicans.”

KRQE News 13 repeatedly asked Little whether he believed sexual orientation is a choice on Wednesday, but he repeatedly refused to answer while House GOP staff attempted to end the interview.

A number of people upset with Little have already posted to his Facebook page.

HB 95 passed out of its first committee Tuesday.