Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s love affair with California just keeps getting better. Perry has won a degree of notoriety for his radio ads inviting Golden State businesses to relocate to the Lone Star State. And he’s been in California this week to headline a series of Republican fundraisers and spread the message that he’d like to get Silicon Valley’s Tesla Motors to pull up stakes and head to Texas.
Wednesday night, Perry appeared at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. During a 73-minute appearance in which he expounded on energy issues, fracking, climate change, government regulation, health care policy and abortion, moderator Greg Dalton asked Perry a question from the audience: “Do you believe homosexuals can be cured by prayer or counseling?” The question prompted a wave of laughter and some applause.
Then came the answer:
Perry: I don’t know, I don’t. I’m not a psychiatrist, I’m not a doctor, so …
Dalton: Is it a disorder?
Perry: I wrote a book called “On My Honor,” and I talked about people make choices in life, and whether or not you, whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that. And I made the point of talking about alcoholism. 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 San Francisco Chronicle’s David Baker reports that Perry’s comment “drew a murmur of disbelief.”
At that point, Dalton changed the subject with another question from the audience on whether Perry believed marijuana would be legalized in Texas (Perry said no, though he added it’s a matter for states, not the federal government, to decide. He added, “If you want to smoke weed and get high, go to Colorado.”)
So, to translate the perhaps untranslatable: Perry says he doesn’t know whether prayer or counseling can “cure” homosexuality. But being LGBT is like alcoholism, a disease, and you can just decide not to be sick. It’s good to have that clarified.
What Perry is saying here is just in keeping with the tenor of Texas Republican politics. As the Chronicle’s Baker notes, the state’s Republican Party last weekend adopted a platform that, among other things, rejects the idea of gay marriage and embraces “reparative therapy” for “patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle.”
Mainstream medicine and psychology have long since discarded the notion that homosexuality is a disorder or that it’s something that needs to be cured. But, as Perry said, he’s not a doctor or psychiatrist, so maybe the fact “restorative therapy” has been discredited and rejected is news to him. That being the case, maybe sometime soon someone will launch an ad campaign in Texas to educate the governor. We’ve heard that prejudices — unlike alcoholism and other diseases — can be cured with a little brain exercise.