Rick Perry Equates Alcoholism with Homosexuality

By Will Godfrey 08/26/11

The GOP presidential candidate preached abstinence for both gays and drunks in his 2008 treatise. Now he's backing away from his book.

Rick Perry: Straight Shooter? Photo via

You often hear parallels being drawn between the recovery movement and the gay rights movement in areas such as public acceptance, and debates over anonymity and "outing." But it's far less common to hear major presidential candidates denounce both alcoholism and homosexuality as conditions born of lax values. Texas Governor and GOP candidate Rick Perry made just such a comparison in his 2008 book On My Honor—a tome which "takes dead aim at the moral relativism of the secular humanist movement," while extolling the virtues of the Boy Scouts of America. His controversial book includes lengthy comparisons of the burden of homosexuals with that of alcoholics. “Even if an alcoholic is powerless over alcohol once it enters his body, he still makes a choice to drink,” Perry writes. “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.” His choice of the word "powerless" suggests some familiarity with the recovery landscape—and if his thinking is in line with the majority of US addiction specialists, who designate alcoholism a "disease," his comparison of alcoholism with homosexuality sounds particularly unsavory. While his book strongly advocates sexual abstinence for gay people, his campaign declined to respond when The Fix called to ask if the governor has changed his opinion on the subject. Even so, some of Perry's more enlightened fans can console themselves with the thought that he might be slightly less reactionary than one of his most prominent GOP rivals, Michigan congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who has denounced homosexuality as a "sexual dysfunction." “This is not funny. It's a very sad life," she remarked in an interview on the subject. "It's part of Satan, I think, to say this lifestyle is 'gay'. It's anything but gay." Bachmann's wildly flamboyant husband Marcus runs a ministry counseling homosexuals seeking to become straight. He has been targeted by programs like The Daily Show and Real Time With Bill Maher, which have jokingly questioned his own heterosexuality.

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Will Godfrey is the former editor-in-chief of TheFix. He was also the founding editor-in-chief of Substance.com, and previously co-founded a magazine for prisoners in London. His work has appeared in Salon, Pacific Standard, AlterNet and The Nation among others. He is currently the Executive Director at FILTER. You can find Will on Linkedin and Twitter.