Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) did not back down Monday from his recent comparison of homosexuality to alcoholism, as he explained in a television interview that he was making a larger point about states' rights and insisted that the question of whether someone can change their sexuality is open to debate.
In an appearance on CNBC's "Squawk Box," anchor Joe Kernan confronted Perry about his remarks last week, which drew the ire of gay rights activists. "I don't see how that's similar," Kernan said of Perry's comparison.
Perry responded: "I understand. People have different opinions about that." He added that the debate is part of a larger discussion about the scope of states' rights.
Kernan followed up, "I get that. But in terms of changing the behavior of someone, I don't think -- you wouldn't think that someone who's heterosexual, that you couldn't change them into a homosexual or someone who is homosexual, you don't think that there should be therapy to try to change them into a heterosexual?"
Perry replied, "I don't know. The fact is, we'll leave that to the psychologists and the doctors."
At a forum in San Francisco last week, Perry suggested that homosexual people could overcome their sexuality in a similar manner to alcoholics overcoming the urge to drink. Perry made the same comparison in his 2008 book.
"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 told the Commonwealth Club of California, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
The Texas Republican Party recently adopted a platform recognizing so-called “reparative therapy” for gays to turn straight. The practice has been discouraged by the American Medical Association. It's been banned by New Jersey and California.
Perry, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said he does not "condone" nor does he "condemn" the gay "lifestyle." He doubled down on his argument that the issue of gay marriage should be left to the states.
"Texas has made the decision on that already by a vote of over 75 percent," said the governor. "They said that marriage is between one man and one woman. And I respect that. And I respect whatever they want to do in California or New York."