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East Texans react to Gov. Rick Perry's controversial comments on homosexuality

Gov. Rick Perry (R) Gov. Rick Perry (R)

Texas Governor Rick Perry is under fire for comparing homosexuality to alcoholism. He made the comment during a speaking engagement in San Francisco Wednesday night -- saying gay people choose that lifestyle and can overcome it.

The Texas Republican Party has made waves in the gay community recently.

Just last week they endorsed the controversial practice of "reparative therapy," which focuses on trying to turn gay people straight, and now Perry is making the argument that -- like alcoholics -- gays and lesbians can make the choice to be straight if they want to.

"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 told a crowd at the Commonwealth Club -- eliciting gasps from some audience members.

This isn't the first time the Texas Republican Party has taken heat for remarks about homosexuals.

On Saturday, the group adopted a party platform that includes support for "therapy" to "cure" being gay known as "reparative therapy" -- which focuses on the belief that homosexuality is created by a person's experiences.

Gene Smith of Tyler says he agrees with Perry.

"I believe it's a choice people make in life," he said. "I don't think it's something you inherit or are born with. It's like anything -- it can be overcome. Your faith can overcome it, I think, if you choose to go that way."

But there are many people who say Perry has gone too far.

"I think it's beautiful that he can speak his opinion -- I don't agree with his opinion," Mark Dwight Stewart, of Tyler, said. "That's a message I don't really relate to, and in that sense I just wouldn't engage with it. I wouldn't really have anything to do with him."

Whichever side you take, it's an issue that continues to cause a heated debate.

CBS19 reached out to local republican leaders for comment Thursday, but no one wanted to speak on camera.

In February, a federal judge struck down Texas' ban on same-sex marriage, calling it unconstitutional. That ruling is still pending an appeal.

Perry is stepping down as governor at the end of his current term.




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