No, Rick Perry, Being Gay Is Not Like Alcoholism

The science is so very clear on this.

National Journal
Brian Resnick
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Brian Resnick
June 12, 2014, 7:35 a.m.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s speech at the Com­mon­wealth Club of Cali­for­nia on Wed­nes­day night was go­ing well — he com­pli­men­ted the Cali­for­nia cli­mate, and even spoke kindly of Hil­lary Clin­ton. But then he said this, in San Fran­cisco no less:

“I may have the ge­net­ic cod­ing that I’m in­clined to be an al­co­hol­ic, but I have the de­sire not to do that,” he said. “And I look at the ho­mo­sexu­al is­sue in the same way.”

This is im­port­ant, as it re­flects the think­ing of the Texas Re­pub­lic­an Party at large, which re­cently ad­op­ted a party plat­form that sup­ports the leg­al­ity of gay-con­ver­sion ther­apy. That plat­form reads,

We re­cog­nize the le­git­im­acy and value of coun­sel­ing which of­fers re­par­at­ive ther­apy and treat­ment to pa­tients who are seek­ing es­cape from the ho­mo­sexu­al life­style. No laws or ex­ec­ut­ive or­ders shall be im­posed to lim­it or re­strict ac­cess to this type of ther­apy.

The ther­apy is much de­rided by the psy­cho­lo­gic­al sci­entif­ic es­tab­lish­ment. “The long-stand­ing con­sensus of the be­ha­vi­or­al and so­cial sci­ences and the health and men­tal-health pro­fes­sions is that ho­mo­sexu­al­ity per se is a nor­mal and pos­it­ive vari­ation of hu­man sexu­al ori­ent­a­tion,” the Amer­ic­an Psy­cho­lo­gic­al As­so­ci­ation wrote in a res­ol­u­tion con­dem­ing such ther­apies. Fur­ther­more, the as­so­ci­ation finds that the ther­apies can cause more harm than good.

Re­cently, some states, such as New York, have sought to ban the ther­apies out­right, prompt­ing Texas Re­pub­lic­ans to pree­mpt such meas­ures at home. In a such strongly con­ser­vat­ive state, it’s un­likely that such meas­ures would stand a chance. (It’s re­min­is­cent of the bans on sharia law in very Chris­ti­an-dom­in­ated areas: All bluster.)

Perry’s com­ments rep­res­ent a com­plete con­fla­tion of the sci­entif­ic is­sue. Al­co­hol­ism is a dis­ease. Al­co­hol­ism is mal­ad­apt­ive. Al­co­hol­ism takes and ru­ins lives. Al­co­hol­ism ought to be cured. Ho­mo­sexu­al­ity, while its ori­gins are not quiet un­der­stood, is not a dis­order. And un­like ther­apy for al­co­hol­ism, “the Amer­ic­an Psy­cho­lo­gic­al As­so­ci­ation con­cludes that there is in­suf­fi­cient evid­ence to sup­port the use of psy­cho­lo­gic­al in­ter­ven­tions to change sexu­al ori­ent­a­tion.”

On the oth­er hand, the APA says of al­co­hol-ad­dic­tion ther­apies: “These ther­apies can help people boost their mo­tiv­a­tion to stop drink­ing, identi­fy cir­cum­stances that trig­ger drink­ing, learn new meth­ods to cope with high-risk drink­ing situ­ations, and de­vel­op so­cial sup­port sys­tems with­in their own com­munit­ies.”

Perry is not seek­ing reelec­tion as gov­ernor in 2014, and it’s likely he’ll run for the White House again.

This will be an is­sue he’ll be held ac­count­able for. The num­ber of Amer­ic­ans who sup­port same-sex mar­riage has reached an all-time high. In 2012, 54 per­cent said they view ho­mo­sexu­al­ity as mor­ally ac­cept­able. And 63 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans say dis­crim­in­a­tion against gays is a “very” or “some­what ser­i­ous” prob­lem.

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