Perry spoke Thursday at an event sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
"I stepped right in it," he said of his comment last week in San Francisco that homosexuals, like alcoholics, can fight a genetic predisposition for a "disorder."
Perry said the United States needs to be "really respectful and tolerant of everybody." He suggested that social issues should be up to the states.
"Whether you're gay or straight, you need to be having a job, and those are the focuses that I want to be involved with," he said. "We're an incredibly diverse mosaic of a country. A lot of these issues need to be decided at the state level."
Perry appears to be gearing up for another run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.