An audience member asked Perry about the Texas Republican Party's recent endorsement of "reparative therapy" for gays during the governor's appearance before the Commonwealth Club of California, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Perry responded that he didn't know whether the therapy worked.
Perry was then asked 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," he responded, as quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle. "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."
That response "drew a murmur of disbelief" from an audience that included many Perry supporters, according to the Chronicle.
Perry made a similar comparison in his 2008 book "On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For." He wrote that even if homosexuality, though it may be genetic, was still an "active choice" akin to an alcoholic choosing to drink.