Rick Perry: Being Gay Is Like Being An Alcoholic


Texas Governor Rick Perry sure seems to be getting back into the swing of things when it comes to pandering to the GOP’s social conservatives:


The Texas Republican Party this month adopted a platform supporting access to “reparative therapy” for gays and lesbians, a widely discredited process intended to change sexual orientation. In response to an audience question about it Wednesday night, Perry said he did not know whether the therapy worked.

Commonwealth Club interviewer Greg Dalton then asked him whether he believes homosexuality is a disorder.

“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 large crowd gathered at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins hotel on Nob Hill included many Perry supporters. But the comment still drew a murmur of disbelief.

On some level, I suppose we should not that this is a change from the traditional conservative view that people “choose” to be gay or straight, but it’s hardly much of an improvement. Indeed, it’s really not much better than the Catholic Church’s view on the issue, which basically holds that the only morally acceptable choice for gays and lesbians is lifetime celibacy.

Rhetoric like this will no doubt be cheered by the many conservatives, but it’s not going to do anything to deflect the criticism rightfully directed at Texas Republicans after their adoption of that absurd “reparative therapy” platform plank. And it certainly won’t help convince younger voters that they should take the GOP seriously.  Way to continue that outreach, GOP.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2014, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. beth says:

    Seems like you’re pulling out the Facepalm graphic a lot lately – must be an election coming up.

  2. If you think that’s bad, there’s a Tea Party candidate in Oklahoma that wants to bring back the death penalty for gays:

    Tea Party Candidate Says It’s OK To Stone Gays To Death

  3. grumpy realist says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I was about to point to that critter as well.

    Oh–and Libertarian Party? If you want to convince anyone that you stand for more than “I’m like a Republican but I want to smoke week and discriminate against anyone I feel like”, you have to stomp hard down on idiots like this one. Insist he’s no libertarian at all.

  4. C. Clavin says:

    Rick Perry…a leader in the GOP…the party of stupid.

  5. stonetools says:

    Doug keeps goading the Republican party to do the “right thing” by abandoning their Neolithic attitude toward gays. The problem is that this is precisely what rallies their base.

    Guess what Doug. They ain’t giving that up! They NEED that base of older, religiously conservative whites who are going to turn out in off -year and Presidential year elections to take back ‘their” America from the gays and the liberals and “effete snobs” who want to doom the country to “secularism.” Of course the moneymen who are the real masters of the GOP don’t really give a d@mn about the gays. But they want to win elections so they can put their no-tax, pro-business, protect-the-rich agenda into practice, and that agenda isn’t popular, whereas whipping up resentment against the gays is, so….

  6. Jim R says:

    @grumpy realist: Yeah, nothing says “libertarian” like executing people because you don’t like their sexuality.

  7. rudderpedals says:

    Being Rick Perry is like being an alcoholic

  8. slimslowslider says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    That sounds mighty primitive. Where oh where is a strong biker to defend us from this caveman?

  9. Tillman says:

    “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.”

    Technically not a bad argument, just underachieved. His reasons for not being an alcoholic are probably because of how destructive to himself and those around him alcohol abuse can be. He doesn’t show any research that says similarly about homosexuality.*

    He also might have accidentally copped to thinking homosexuality is genetic. That’d be a real departure from “being gay is a choice.”

    * And good luck finding it!

  10. stonetools says:

    In Rick Perry’s defence, one scientist I know has rightly stated: Science has yet been unable to determine whether homosexuality is a preference, a weakness to be guarded against, or simply part of normal human variation.”
    Of course that is different from answering the question whether gays should be denied equal protection under the law because of behavior which harms no one. The real problem is Rick Perry’s answer to that question.

  11. C. Clavin says:

    I drank too much last night.
    But I don’t think I sucked anyone’s johnson.

  12. Franklin says:

    @stonetools: That’s fine. But when you compare homosexuality with alcoholism, you’re suggesting that homosexuality is a pretty serious ‘weakness’, since alcoholism hurts a lot of people.

    A more apt comparison, in my opinion, is being gay and being left-handed. There’s a strong historical stigma against being either one, despite there being little evidence that they are fundamentally bad. Sure there is some evidence that left-handers don’t live as long (for whatever reason, perhaps because right-handers have made everything easier for right-handers), but does that mean left-handedness is a ‘weakness to be guarded against’?

  13. beth says:

    @Franklin: I’ve always thought that the involuntary physical responses to love/lust were pretty hard to fake. Your heart flutters, you catch your breath, and I don’t need to detail what happens in the private areas. Can that be faked? Can you walk into Starbucks and summon up those feelings for someone of the same sex at the next table if you’re not predisposed to?

  14. al-Ameda says:

    I really … REALLY … hope that Rick Perry is all in for the Republican Party presidential campaign in 2016.

  15. Nikki says:

    Being Rick Perry is like being an asshole.

  16. HelloWorld says:

    @Tillman: its not a good argument at all. I am more inclinde to be left handed. That doesn’t mean I should force myself to be right handed. Comparing to an alcaholic is his way of trying to trick shallow people into associating a behavior with something negative because he doesn’t like it. Alcaholics hurt themselves and other people. Homosexuals don’t harm anyone anymore than anyone else.

  17. Liberal Capitalist says:


    Seems like you’re pulling out the Facepalm graphic a lot lately –

    Didn’t you know?

    It’s the official logo of the conservative G.O.Tea Party !

    (Derp Strong!)

  18. Grewgills says:

    That was his point and it was very common to force left handed people into right handedness, so the comparison is apt.

  19. James Young says:

    @Jim R: Except maybe forcing faithful Christians to participate in your phony “marriages.”

  20. mantis says:

    @James Young: Or forcing faithful Christians to serve black folk.

  21. Kylopod says:

    @Stormy Dragon: My father likes to say that people call themselves libertarian because they think being a libertarian is cool. You even occasionally see liberals adopt the term (Bill Maher, Markos Moulitsas), but most of the time it’s something conservatives like to call themselves, even when they hold reactionary social and religious views. This story about the kill-the-gays “libertarian” may be the ultimate reductio ad absurdum to this tendency.

  22. that guy says:


    @James Young: Or forcing faithful Christians to serve black folk.

    Wat? Which way? Deep fried, or BBQ’ed ?

  23. jd says:

    The characterization of homosexuality-as-illness came out of the hundreds of years of ignorance and bigotry around the subject. There was never any scientific study that determined homosexuality was an illness, post-“if-it-floats-it’s-a-witch”.

    Against that backdrop we have, as early as 1937, Freud reassuring a mother writing to him about her son that homosexuality was “nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation, it cannot be classified as an illness, but a variation of sexual function”

    Consider also: “Psychologist Evelyn Hooker’s (1957) research put the idea of homosexuality as mental disorder to a scientific test. She studied a nonclinical sample of homosexual men and compared them with a matched sample of heterosexual men. Hooker found, among other things, that based on three projective measures (the Thematic Apperception Test, the Make-a-Picture-Story test, and the Rorschach), the homosexual men were comparable to their matched heterosexual peers on ratings of adjustment. Strikingly, the experts who examined the Rorschach protocols could not distinguish the protocols of the homosexual cohort from the heterosexual cohort, a glaring inconsistency with the then-dominant understanding of homosexuality and projective assessment techniques.” (Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force: Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation)

    The decision to remove homosexuality from the DSM was not due to a scientific study proving that homosexuality was OK. It was removed because there was no test that showed that homosexuals were at a performance disadvantage to heterosexuals. Just as there is no performance differential between brown-eyed and blue-eyed people. They’re just people. It does not matter if there is no proof of a genetic, hormonal or environmental cause. There is no reason to deny them their rights.

  24. grumpy realist says:

    @jd: Plus the fact that if you take a population and discriminate against them for existing, abuse them, throw them in jail, it’s not surprising you might end up with a group that’s more neurotic than the “common folk.”

    Methinks that heterosexuals have enough skeletons in their own closet concerning relationships that if they had any integrity at all they’d leave the poor homosexuals alone.

  25. C. Clavin says:

    So much for enjoying a$$-$ex ever again.

  26. DrDaveT says:


    Technically not a bad argument, just underachieved

    Right. In fact, it follows almost necessarily from the axioms and the evidence:

    1) The bible says that homosexual behavior is sin and abomination.

    Axiom: The bible can’t be wrong.

    Thus homosexual behavior is sin and abomination.

    2) Sins are either voluntary (choices) or involuntary (compulsions)

    3) While some homosexual behavior may be consciously chosen (e.g. “political lesbians”), there is now overwhelming evidence that sexual preference is not voluntarily chosen.

    4) Homosexuality is an involuntary compulsion.

    5) Compulsion can be like psychosis, or like addictive behavior, or like OCD

    6) There’s no evidence that homosexuality is a psychological disorder like psychosis or OCD

    7) Homosexuality must be like addictive behaviors, the most familiar of which is alcoholism.

    If you start with that particular axiom, that’s where you end up, given the current evidence. I had no idea Rick Perry was such an accomplished logician.

    This argument also gets around the problem that, if homosexuality is not something you choose, it seems unfair of God to insist that you be punished for it. After all, alcoholics can nevertheless live mostly happy lives if they get the right treatment and support…

  27. @James Young:
    Every time I see a comment from James Young, it reaffirms my desire to have absolutely nothing to do with “conservatives” or the “conservative movement”. The fact that someone who is an attorney could write something so mind-boggling moronic is proof of how stupid you have to be (or pretend to be) to be a “conservative”.

  28. DrDaveT says:

    @Jim R:

    Yeah, nothing says “libertarian” like executing people because you don’t like their sexuality.

    Hey, in the Libertarian Paradise you can execute anyone you and your vassals are strong enough to execute. No reason needed.

    …Assuming you’re one of the tiny minority that gets to do unto others, rather than being done to.

  29. Grewgills says:

    @C. Clavin:
    Come on Cliff, you know next time you go there you’ll be thinking about Perry’s smilin’ face and you’ll love it.

  30. al-Ameda says:

    Seriously folks?

    All Rick Perry was doing was using California, San Francisco specifically, as a fundraising prop. He can come out here, blow the dog whistle (pun definitely intended) and all the nut cases back home hear it loud and clear. He probably gets bonus points with the nut jobs because he actually believes what he is saying.