Drunk on Rhetoric

Rick Perry’s Stupid Comment on Booze and Sex(uality)

The Texas governor’s dumb and hateful statement about alcoholism and homosexuality shows who’s really addicted—to fighting the culture war.

Mike Segar/Reuters

I’m not gonna lie, I am indeed addicted to being gay. The gorgeous women. The comfortable shoes. The hate mail and harassment. I just can’t get enough.

So I completely understand how the Republican Governor of Texas Rick Perry could compare being gay to being an alcoholic. Duh! Nothing offensive about that at all. Gayness passes across my lips and courses through my veins like a 20-year-old scotch.

And much like alcoholism, being gay makes me do reckless and dangerous things. Like have a kid. And want to get married. And fight for equal treatment and justice for all. Things we can’t have everyone rushing to do because, dammit, love and equality are downright un-American.

Recently, the Texas Republican Convention approved language in its official party platform that reads: “Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples. We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin.”

The platform goes on to endorse so-called “reparative therapy” to “cure” being gay and says that no laws shall be endorsed to limit such options.

Never mind for a second that every single major psychological association has dismissed “reparative therapy” as not only offensive and ineffective but damaging—the founder of the “gay cure” treatment even repudiated it! But Texas apparently prides itself on being woefully behind the times.

When asked about his state party’s platform language, Perry said he didn’t know whether the therapy worked or not … and then added: “Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that.” For example: “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.”

Mind you, this is the leader of a state where 58 percent of voters support marriage equality—where public opinion has dramatically shifted from just 10 years ago when most Texans opposed same-sex marriage. Perry is helpfully illustrating the increasingly profound disconnect between Republican political leaders and mainstream American voters that is hobbling the Republican Party nationwide. On issues from immigration reform to common-sense gun safety to Social Security and Medicare, Republican political figures continue to adopt positions that may please the vocal fringe in their base but alienate the vast majority of mainstream Americans.

Also this week a Republican candidate for the state House of Representatives in Oklahoma endorsed stoning gay people to death. Ancient views literally wrapped in a ancient response reflective of an increasingly ancient political party.

On some level I get it—stoking the culture war has served Republicans well for the last generation, and they can’t quite let go of the fact that hard-line conservative social views now turn off more voters than they entice. Plus with their economic policies that only benefit the rich, and with Democrats increasingly dominating public opinion on national security, it’s not like Republicans have any other drums to beat. So that sound you hear is Republicans desperately beating the drum of the divisive culture war as their moral crusade and political relevance fade into the distance.

As an American, I’m downright depressed that a major political party in our country is fanning the flames of hatred and inequality in order to eke votes out of its increasingly marginal base of support. But as a Democrat, of course I’m giddy—these extremist and ugly views have no place in our modern society and a party that espouses them should rightfully become equally obsolete. That giddiness is a warm and fuzzy feeling, almost as good as being drunk but definitely not as good as being gay.