A CNBC anchor pressed Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) on Monday to explain his remark that compared being gay to being an alcoholic.
“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 Wednesday at an event in San Francisco. “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.”
“I have a really high bar for what I would take offense to, but that would exceed the bar for me on being an offensive comment,” “Squawk Box” host Joe Kernan told Perry. “I don’t think gay marriage leads to cirrhosis of the liver or domestic violence or DWIs. I don’t understand how that’s similar.”
Perry responded that the gay marriage issue has always been a battleground for states’ rights and rejected the idea that Washington should make decisions on issues like same-sex marriage. Perry said earlier that even though Texas voters had overwhelmingly rejected same-sex marriage, he still respected the legalization of gay marriage in states like California and New York.
Kernan then tried to get Perry to confront the psychological implications of his comment. The Texas Republican Party had endorsed “reparative therapy” for gays at its annual convention days before Perry made his disputed comment.
“In terms of changing the behavior of someone, you wouldn’t think that someone who’s heterosexual that you couldn’t change them into a homosexual, or if someone who’s homosexual, you don’t think there should be therapy to change them into a heterosexual?” Kernan asked.
“I don’t know,” Perry responded. “The fact is we’ll leave that to the psychologists and the doctors.”
“Well, the psychologists, they’ve already weighed in,” Kernan shot back. “They’ve dismissed the idea that sexual orientation is a mental disorder.”
Kernan then appealed to Perry’s potential presidential ambitions, arguing that the Republican Party’s position on gay marriage could hurt it at the ballot box.
“If you were to run again, you would not — there are upstanding gay couples, good citizens that are good parents, and you would agree with that,” he said. “And these are people that are going to be with us forever. It just seems like the Republican Party is going to be forever behind the curve on issues like this, and it doesn’t help the party win elections.”
“I don’t necessarily condone that lifestyle. I don’t condemn it, either,” Perry concluded. “We’re all children of god. And the fact is that people will decide where they want to live if Washington will respect the Tenth Amendment.”
Watch below, courtesy of CNBC:
This post has been updated.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.