13 June 2014, 12:44

Texas Gov Rick Perry under fire after comparing homosexuality to alcoholism

Texas Gov Rick Perry under fire after comparing homosexuality to alcoholism

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, speaking in San Francisco on Wednesday night, said the US would better serve its diverse population by letting the states handle many economic and social policies, a point he perhaps inadvertently drove home when he compared homosexuality to alcoholism.

Perry’s comments to the Commonwealth Club of California came after Texas’ Republican Convention on Saturday sanctioned platform language allowing Texans to seek voluntary counseling to “cure” being gay.

In an appearance at the Commonwealth Club of California, Perry likened homosexuality to alcoholism. His remarks received national attention Thursday and were panned by gay rights activists. The events raised questions about whether Perry's apparent attempts to soften his image and convince donors and power brokers he can run a viable campaign against stiff competition after falling flat in 2012 can work.

"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, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper. "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."

A representative for Perry was not immediately available for comment.

Perry has been a staunch defender of a Texas constitutional amendment that bars same-sex marriage, saying states should be allowed to set their own policies for who can get married.

The already conservative Texas Republican Party in the past week adopted a hardline position on gay rights, adopting a policy at its convention that endorses "reparative therapy" for gays who seek to change sexual orientation through counseling.

The American Psychological Association has dismissed the idea that sexual orientation is a mental disorder and said mental health professionals should avoid telling clients that they can change their sexual orientation through therapy or other treatments.

Perry, who waged a calamitous 2012 run for president, is widely seen as scouting a second attempt in 2016 as he prepares to step down in January after 14 years as governor.

After entering the race to heavy hype, Perry fizzled. His disappointing campaign was perhaps most memorable for what came to be known as his "Oops" moment. During a debate, Perry struggled to name a government agency he vowed to shutter as president.

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