Perry, Abbott and the LGBT

The Dallas Morning News reports that Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), while in California, officially touting Texas’ economic success but unofficially already beginning a 2016 campaign for President, has made some extremely controversial comments. Perry compared homosexuality to alcoholism, admitting that many people may be genetically predisposed to it, but insisting nonetheless that great will-power be used to overcome the urges.

“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 said. Of course, alcoholism inherently kills you by poisoning your liver, whereas homosexuality does nothing to your physical health. In fact, every reputable psychological and medical association has confirmed that being gay is not a choice, nor does it inherently harm anyone.

Perry’s comments were combed over especially rigorously in light of the Texas Republican Party’s recent wobbles into gay bashing. As many will recall, the Texas GOP endorsed reparative therapies for gay people, a practice universally condemned as cruel and ineffective by the pertinent parties. Accordingly, I get the feeling that everyone is far more interested in these types of controversial statements on the part of people like Perry, even though he has largely said the same thing countless other times in recent years. After all, this is the same man who ran a television commercial lambasting active soldiers at Christmastime just because they were gay.

However, as Off the Kuff noted this morning, this newfound push to castigate gays and lesbians is leading people to reexamine candidates such as Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for Governor. The Houston Chronicle tried reaching out to him on the more controversial topics, to almost no avail. I agree with Kuffner’s argument that, given the uniquely omnipotent role that the State GOP holds today, fantasies on the platform could easily become realities in the legislature. Accordingly, we should be especially weary of them, as unreasonable political positions on their part are far more dangerous than the wishful thinking and liberal excess on the Democrats’ part.

The underlying dispute behind reparative therapy, “turning someone straight,” has heated up in a couple of States previously. Both California and New Jersey have criminalized compelling children into these vicious so-called therapies. Obviously, you cannot ban the practice among consenting adults. It is unclear if the Texas plank refers to only adults, or children to. State Senator Wendy Davis, the Democratic candidate for Governor, for her part, has convincingly condemned the practice.

The development, reported by Lone Star Q, is not all that surprising. Furthermore, KYTX –a CBS affiliate in Longview– confirms that Abbott acknowledged that the LGBT issue was not high on his priority list, though like the Chronicle, he continued to decline to take a position.

As for Perry, he comments are obviously wrong, but I think they show some improvement. Accepting that homosexuality is innate, and not a choice, is an important distinction and the first step in the process toward acceptance. Obviously, there is still much work left to be done.

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