Surprise! Yesterday, the same Republican politician who tried to save his foundering presidential campaign with a gay-baiting TV ad defended ex-gay therapy and compared homosexuality to alcohol abuse.
Speaking at a summit in California, Texas Gov. Rick Perry responded to questions about the Texas Republican Party’s endorsement of ex-gay therapy in its new far-right platform by arguing that homosexuality is like alcoholism: “Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that. 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.”
Perry is far from the only Republican figure to have expressed this view.
Another former GOP presidential candidate who is also considering a second run, Gov. Mike Huckabee, likened homosexuality to alcoholism in a 2009 interview with Esquire:
Huckabee says he doesn’t know if homosexuality is inborn, but he believes you can control the behavior. He compares homosexuality to obesity or alcoholism: “Some people have a predisposition to alcoholism. Does that mean they’re not responsible for getting drunk? No.”
Fellow 2012 presidential contender Rick Santorum cited “people who were gay and lived a gay lifestyle and aren’t anymore” as a reason to oppose gay rights. Michele Bachmann’s husband heads a clinic that practices ex-gay therapy. Ted Cruz’s father and political adviser, Rafael Cruz, has defended ex-gay therapy as legitimate “biblical” counseling, adding, “sexual orientation is a choice, it’s not a civil right.”
Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema recently got in trouble with his own party after he, among other offensive remarks, compared gay people to alcoholics. So did top Religious Right leaders Mat Staver and Tony Perkins. Robert Jeffress, a Texas pastor close to Perry, also “equates being gay with alcoholism or a genetic proclivity toward violence,” according to the Dallas-based D Magazine.
Despite story after story about the GOP’s purported shift on gay rights, the party is still mired in anti-gay bigotry.