San Francisco resident Kelly Bryan, 62, asked Kasich the question at a forum hosted by the Commonwealth of California Club, telling the Ohio governor, "Gay people are human beings and not a lifestyle choice. Please respond without prayer being an answer."
"In terms of me, I don't believe in discrimination," Kasich said. "I think there is a balance, however, between discrimination and people's religious liberties. But I think we should just try to, like, take a chill pill, relax, and try to get along with one another a little bit better instead of trying to write some law to solve a problem that doesn't frankly exist in big enough numbers to justify more lawmaking."
"Well, no, they don't tell me what to do about the platform. The Republican Party is my vehicle, not my master," Kasich replied. "I have a right to define the Republican Party, too."
Kasich added: "I believe in traditional marriage, (but) I just went to a gay wedding," Kasich responded. "My wife and I went to the wedding. It was great, it was fine."
Bryan continued to repeat the question about whether people are born gay, with Kasich saying he didn't want to get "into the analysis of this or that."
"Do I think that people are, you know, born gay? Probably," Kasich said. "I've never studied the issue. But I don't see any reason to hurt you or to discriminate you or make you feel bad or make you feel like a second-class citizen. I don't think that's right."
The event's moderator twice tried to move onto the next questioner, but Kasich was determined to engage with him: "You don't want to skip over these things, all right? I mean, he's concerned. And I appreciate it."
In explaining his answer, Kasich called for greater tolerance in America.
"So let's just, like, respect one another a little bit more, tolerate each other's individual beliefs," he said. "And I'm not gonna sign any laws in Ohio that is going to create a discrimination against anybody."
Kelly, a Democrat who said he will vote for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, told CNN Kasich's answer "was not really an answer" and that he had asked the question because he was concerned with recent state laws written to protect religious freedom that some view as discriminatory against the LGBT community.
Kasich is not the first Republican presidential candidate to weigh in on this subject.
Last March, Ben Carson apologized
after saying homosexuality is a choice because people "go into prison straight -- and when they come out, they're gay."