Texas Governor Rick Perry has suggested people can ‘choose’ to be gay in the same way you can ‘choose’ not to be an alcoholic.
He made the remarks on Wednesday evening during a visit to the Commonwealth Club of California – just days after the Texas Republican Convention announced its support for gay-to-straight conversion therapy.
The Associated Press reports Mr Perry said he did not know whether the widely-discredited therapy worked, but then claimed gay people had the ability to avoid their “lifestyle”.
“Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that.”
The Republican added: “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.”
Mr Perry ran as a 2012 Republican presidential candidate and is seen as a 2016 contender.
He was against lifting the ban on gay Scout members. In 2012, he described his state’s previous ban on male same-sex sexual activity as “appropriate”.
In his first book, On My Honor, published in 2008, Mr Perry drew a parallel between homosexuality and alcoholism, writing that he is “no expert on the ‘nature versus nurture’ debate”, but that gay people should simply choose abstinence.
During the 2012 presidential campaign, he criticised the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.