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Perry under fire for equating homosexuality and alcoholism

AUSTIN -- Democrats and gay rights groups on Thursday harshly criticized Texas Governor Rick Perry's comparison of homosexuality to alcoholism as ill-informed and toxic.

“Gov. Rick Perry should be ashamed of himself,” said Texas Democratic Party executive director Will Hailer.

Speaking to a group in San Francisco, Perry was asked about the platform the state Republican Party adopted last week that encouraged reparative therapy to “cure” homosexuality.

Questioned whether he believed homosexuality is a disorder, Perry said: “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.”

Hailer said that as the Republican finishes his last term in office, “the governor should be working to bring Texans together instead of grandstanding across the country and spewing toxic, ill-informed rhetoric.”

Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said that the governor has always supported traditional marriage “and believes that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

“He has been clear on his position that each state has the right to define marriage to reflect the views of its citizens,” she said.

The Human Rights Campaign, an organization that promotes gay rights, also took Perry to task.

“Although he may not have the 'genetic coding' to think before he speaks, Rick Perry, M.D., should have a real conversation with actual doctors before voicing his expertise on these issues,” said Fred Sainz, a Human Rights Campaign spokesman.

“Every major mental health and medical organization in the country has condemned practices aimed at changing a person's sexual orientation.”

Health groups studying reparative therapy to suppress homosexual attractions found that it can be psychologically harmful. In the young, in particular, studies have shown it could lead to depression and suicidal thoughts.

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