Texas Gov. Rick Perry tried Monday to explain his controversial comments likening being gay to being an alcoholic, saying he was trying to make a larger point about states' rights.
In an interview on CNBC, Perry was asked several times by Squawk Box host Joe Kernen to clarify and expand on comments made last week in San Francisco. This time, when asked specifically if he believes therapy should be used to change the behavior of someone who is gay, Perry said: "You know, I don't know. The fact is, we'll leave that to the psychologists and doctors."
Perry, who is considering another presidential bid, created a stir last week in San Francisco when he was asked by a questioner at the Commonwealth Club of California whether he believes homosexuality is a disorder. His response was:
Whether or not 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 that way.
The American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973 and many of the major medical and health groups have followed suit. The American Psychological Association has denounced what has been called gay-conversion therapy or reparative therapy.
Perry's original comments to the Commonwealth Club of California drew widespread criticism — from Democrats, advocacy groups such as the Human Rights Campaign and even fellow Republicans such as Chris Christie.
In the CNBC interview Monday, the Texas governor tried to bring the debate back to states' rights.
"The grander conversation we were having was a 10th Amendment conversation where we were talking about states being able to decide these issues. And, frankly, that's what I think we need to be focused on in this country," Perry told Kernan. "Whether's these onerous EPA regulations or whether it's issues that deal with education or transportation infrastructure or same-sex marriage. States should be able to make those decisions themselves."
When Kernan commented that Perry's views on homosexuality would not help the Republican Party, Perry said. "I don't necessarily condone that lifestyle. I don't condemn it, either. We're all children of God."