Rick Perry
"Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that," Perry told the Commonwealth Club of California on Thursday. Christopher Halloran/Shutterstock
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Rick Perry: Our genes don’t determine our sexual behavior (video)

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Texas Gov. Rick Perry is facing withering criticism for a statement he made in San Francisco saying that, if scientists ever prove homosexuality has a genetic component, it would not mean that it is acceptable to act out on one's same-sex attractions.

"Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that," he told the Commonwealth Club of California on Thursday. "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's remarks came in response to a moderator's question about whether homosexuality can be changed through reparative therapy. “I don't know,” Perry said, citing his lack of clinical psychological training.

“Is it a disorder?” he was asked.

“Perry gave a perfectly reasonable explanation of his view on homosexuality, and the analogy to alcoholism was perfect in that it showed a genetic inclination to do something doesn't mean it's a good thing to do."

In his response, he referred to his 2008 book On My Honor, a book about the Boy Scouts which carries a foreword by fellow Texan Ross Perot. Perry wrote, "Even if an alcoholic is powerless over alcohol once it enters his body, he still makes a choice to drink. And, even if someone is attracted to a person of the same sex, he or she still makes a choice to engage in sexual activity with someone of the same gender."

Overnight, the internet was bombarded headlined stories saying that Rick Perry compared or likened “homosexuality to alcoholism.”

“Perry gave a perfectly reasonable explanation of his view on homosexuality, and the analogy to alcoholism was perfect in that it showed a genetic inclination to do something doesn't mean it's a good thing to do,” wrote Dan Calabrese, a Christian writer who maintains the website of former presidential candidate Herman Cain. “If you can't make a perfectly reasonable case like that without destroying your political viability, then screw politics. No one needs to run for any office if doing so means you can't candidly say what you think and explain why.”

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Perry is widely considered a likely 2016 Republican presidential hopeful and could begin campaigning shortly after he retires at the end of the year. His seat is being sought by Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis.

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