Speaking at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club, Perry discussed economic issues such as government regulation and job creation. When asked by interviewer Greg Dalton about the Texas GOP's formal endorsement of the otherwise discredited practice of "reparative" therapy to "change" a person's natural sexual preference, Perry said while he does not know if the therapy necessarily works, he does view homosexuality as a mental disorder.
"Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that," Perry said.
"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."
The San Francisco Gate reports that the extremist rhetoric left the crowd of Perry supporters in stunned silence, while journalists for local CBS affiliate KPIX reported audible gasps from offended audience members.
A federal judge overturned Texas' same-sex marriage ban in February, but marriage licences will not be issued until an appeals court upholds the ruling.