Rick Perry's comparison of homosexuality to alcoholism could hurt his campaign if a recent example from Colorado of a similar misstep is a harbinger of things to come.
The aspiring Republican presidential nominee wrote in his 2008 book, On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For, that, "Even if an alcoholic is powerless over alcohol once it enters his body, he still makes a choice to drink. And, even if someone is attracted to a person of the same sex, he or she still makes a choice to engage in sexual activity with someone of the same gender."
Those comments sound eerily similar to the ones made by former Republican candidate Ken Buck, who lost his U.S. Senate bid in 2010 despite a wave election for the GOP.
"I think that birth has an influence ... like alcoholism and some other things, but I think that basically, you have a choice," Buck said of sexual orientation during a debate on Meet the Press. Washington, D.C., politics site The Hotline named the gaffe to its list of "Moments That Made the Midterms" because Buck's entry into social issues seemed to diminish the Tea Party candidate's standing with centrists.
Just as Perry tried in his book to claim he's "no expert on the 'nature versus nurture' debate," Buck later tried to distance himself from his own words, saying he is "not a biologist." The actual experts on the subject, such as the American Psychiatric Association, stopped listing homosexuality as a mental illness long ago. And researchers have suspected that sexuality is at least rooted in biology.
After the 2010 debate, The Hotline reports, Buck said, "I wasn't talking about being gay as a disease. I don't think that at all and I hope that no one would be that insensitive to try to draw that ... I certainly didn't mean it that way."
The Denver Post points out that comments Perry made in his book were getting renewed attention online just one day before the Texas governor was to hold a campaign fund-raiser in, of all places, Colorado.