Texas Gov. Rick Perry compared homosexuality to alcoholism at an event in San Francisco Wednesday night, saying people can choose whether they engage in either lifestyle.
"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 when asked whether homosexuality is a disorder at an event at the Commonwealth Club of California. "I may have the genetic coding that I'm inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that."
The statement drew a "smattering of groans and hisses" from the crowd, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Perry's comments come one week after the Texas Republican Party ratified a platform that endorsed "reparative therapy" for gay people. Asked in a written question whether he believed homosexuals could be cured through prayer or counseling, Perry said, "I don't know. I'm not a psychiatrist, I'm not a doctor."
He and his critics can agree on that point.
"Although he may not have the 'genetic coding' to think before he speaks, Rick Perry, M.D. should have a real conversation with actual doctors before voicing his expertise on these issues," Human Rights Campaign spokesman Fred Sainz said in a statement today. "Every major mental health and medical organization in the country has condemned practices aimed at changing a person's sexual orientation."
Perry, who is considering a run for president in 2016, was notably vocal on issues regarding homosexuality during his 2012 bid for the White House. During his presidential campaign, the governor ran a controversial television ad that criticized the policy allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the military.