Texas governor Rick Perry would not retract his statement comparing homosexuality to alcoholism, but he said he would rather leave "psychologists and the doctors to decide" whether "ex-gay" conversion therapy is a legitimate tool.
Earlier this month, the Texas Republican Party officially endorsed the practice of so-called ex-gay therapy in its platform. Questioned about the matter at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club, Perry said, "Whether 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."
When Perry appeared Monday on CNBC's Squawk Box, co-anchor Joe Kernen said he found the statement offensive and that same-sex marriage, for instance. does not lead "to cirrhosis of the liver, domestic violence, or DWIs," so he did not understand the comparison.
"I understand people have different opinions on that," Perry said. "The interesting thing for me is that this conversation has always been about states' rights to make decisions on these hosts of issues."
When Kernen clarified that he also considered the comment regarding ex-gay therapy to be counter to psychologists' decades-old conclusion that sexual orientation is unchangeable, Perry dodged the question.
"I don't necessarily condone that lifestyle. I don't condemn it either," Perry said. "We're all children of God. The fact is that people will decide where they want to live if Washington will respect the Tenth Amendment. And I think that will make America substantially happier."
Watch the exchange below: