Rick Perry, who had pretty successfully repaired his image as a back-country doofus by donning a pair of smart-guy glasses, has stepped in it again. This time, while speaking in San Francisco of all places, he explained that being gay is like being a drunk:
"Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, ," Perry said. "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."
I can't wait until Perry speaks at Hazelden.
There's a lot to think about here. For starters, why the hell is a politician even talking about this issue? Is it really the proper role of the state to care what consenting adults get up to?
As it happens, the Texas Republican Party apparently believes that's exactly the sort of thing the state should be intimately involved with. Recently, the group did remove "decades-old language in the state party platform that states, 'homosexuality tears at the fabric of society.'" At the same time, though, the party added a plank about "the legitimacy and efficacy of counseling, which offers reparative therapy and treatment for those patients seeking healing and wholeness from their homosexual lifestyle."
Explained a conservative delegate:
"The platform reflects what the people in the Republican Party have asked for, and that should be no surprise: family values, protection of marriage between one man and one woman and everything that goes along with that," said Jonathan Saenz, president of the conservative group Texas Values and a convention delegate.
Let me go bold here and suggest that if you believe in limited government, as most Texas Republicans claim to, the only fucking you should be worried about is what the state is doing to taxpayers.
Back to Perry, though: If being gay is like being an alcoholic, why not suggest moderation management rather than abstinence? Count your drinks and your sexual episodes!
I get what Perry seems to be saying: Being predisposed to certain behavior or even being "born that way" is no excuse for any particular behavior; it doesn't mean you don't have responsibility for your actions. But then the analogy loses all meaning. You know why? Having a substance abuse problem is bad for the user and for the people around him (drunk driving and all that). Being gay, not so much. Sure, Mom and Dad may be disappointed and all you old girlfriends discomfited, but the externalities of being gay just aren't at all comparable to the worst externalities of being an alcoholic. Drunk drivers are rightly fined and jailed. Gay drivers don't run stop signs or plow into schoolkids (if they do, it's not because of being gay).
Remember back in 2012? The Republican Party got sidetracked when a couple of its candidates felt it was really important to talk about rape and fertility. Not a good idea from a pure-politics angle or from a conservative angle either. I don't think that equating homosexuality with alcoholism is much better. Especially in a country that no longer frets over gays and lesbians like a rerun of In Living Color. For god's sake, even the Texas Republican Party no longer believes that "homosexuality tears at the fabric of society."