Rick Perry, the current governor of Texas who is reportedly eyeing a second run at the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, stunned a crowd gathered to hear him speak in San Francisco, California, Wednesday, when he told the audience members that being gay is similar to being alcoholic.
Perry was speaking before the Commonwealth Club of California, to a group that was said to include many Rick Perry backers. But according to The San Francisco Chronicle, Perry nonetheless elicited a “murmur of disbelief” from the largely supportive audience when he answered a question about the recently adopted Texas Republican Party platform which endorses so-called “reparative therapy,” a type of psychological counseling which claims to turn gay people into heterosexuals.
Perry’s answer was that, in his view, gay people choose to engage in homosexual acts just as — he said — alcoholics choose to drink. Though he said he did not know whether reparative therapy “worked” or not.
“Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that,” Perry said. “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.”
The American Psychological Association has long condemned reparative therapy, sometimes also called “conversion therapy,” as unethical because it discriminates against gays and fails to “respect the rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality, self-determination and autonomy.”
The Texas Republican platform, however, endorses reparative therapy for gays and states that there should be no laws preventing it.
“Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples,” the Texas Republican platform reads. “We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin.”
Gay marriage is now legal in 19 states, plus Washington D.C., though Texas is not one of those states.
A federal judge last week ruled that the ban on gay marriage in Wisconsin is unconstitutional and must be struck down.
While Wisconsin would make a 20th state in which gays are allowed to legally marry, the judge’s ruling has been met with confusion, as Winconsin’s Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has resisted the U.S. District Court decision and on Thursday issued a warning to county clerks that issuing marriage licenses to gay couples would be held in violation of state law.
The comments by Rick Perry comparing gay people to alcoholics come just days after a Republican candidate for the state House in Oklahoma said that gay people should be subject to death by stoning.