Chris Christie rebuts Perry comparison of homosexuality to alcoholism

Chris Christie rebuts Perry comparison of homosexuality to alcoholism
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talks to reporters on a visit to San Francisco, in his role as head of the Republican Governors Assn. (David Paul Morris / Bloomberg)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who signed legislation barring "gay conversion therapy" in his state, said Friday that Texas Gov. Rick Perry's comparison of homosexuality to alcoholism was wrong.

"I disagree with him, and I don't believe that's an apt analogy," Christie said during a San Francisco appearance alongside Neel Kashkari, the GOP candidate for California governor.


Christie was appearing with Kashkari in his role as head of the Republican Governors Assn., but he declined to speak for the organization and its members. "Every governor and public official has to speak for themselves on these issues," he told reporters. "I just spoke for myself."

At a question-and-answer session Wednesday night in San Francisco, Perry reiterated his belief that homosexuality was a lifestyle choice.

"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."

Perry previously made that analogy in a 2008 book, and his views were discussed during his 2012 presidential campaign. But his comments Wednesday night before the Commonwealth Club of California, a nonpartisan speakers forum, sparked new interest in light of the Texas GOP's recent adoption of platform language endorsing "reparative therapy," which holds that counseling can change the sexual orientation of adults

Christie — like Perry, a possible 2016 Republican candidate for president — last year signed a bill outlawing "reparative therapy" or "gay conversion" in his state. California also outlaws the practice.

Kashkari told reporters he also disagreed with Perry's statement. "Somebody's sexual orientation is nothing to be 'treated,'" said Kashkari, who has broken with many in the Republican Party by supporting same-sex marriage. "We are who we are."

Christie was in California for several stops Friday, which included closed-door fundraising for the governors association and a swing by Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park.

His appearance in overwhelmingly Democratic San Francisco came on friendly turf, a flower warehouse and gift shop owned by a longtime GOP activist. As Kashkari stood smiling by his side, before a flower-covered arch and a table full of houseplants, Christie was asked about another statement Perry made Wednesday night, hailing Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton as a "great secretary of State."

"I have to tell you the truth, I haven't spent a lot of time analyzing Secretary Clinton's time at the State Department," Christie said. "If there comes a time I need to, then I'll give you my analysis then, but I don't have one now."

Christie, famous in New Jersey for his brusque manner and dismissive treatment of reporters, sarcastically brushed aside a question asking him to lay out his position on immigration and the possibility of legislation passing a starkly divided Congress. "I'm sure you'd love me to do that and, in fact, what I want to do in a flower warehouse, I want to give you a very complex answer behind a set of microphones on a contentious issue that's driving debate all across the country," he said to laughter from an audience of several dozen Kashkari supporters. "No, thank you."

He was even more abrupt when asked about new revelations that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency at the center of a scandal involving his administration's lane closings last year at the George Washington Bridge, is facing an inquiry by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "Any other questions?" Christie asked, turning away from the reporter.

Several investigations are underway into the lane closures, which caused a mammoth four-day traffic jam in Fort Lee, N.J., following the refusal by that city's mayor to endorse Christie's 2013 reelection. The governor has said repeatedly that he knew nothing about the lane-closure plan.

His day took a lighter turn at Facebook headquarters, where Christie spent about 30 minutes taking questions submitted online. Several urged him to run for president, but not all were so kind. "Is there a way to impeach yourself?" one asked. "Unfortunately for you," Christie responded, "no."

Christie was also asked about his favorite character from the boisterous "Jersey Shore" TV series ("none," he replied) and his favorite beach (he ducked that one), and was praised for his dancing Thursday night on "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon.


The governor enjoys close ties to Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, who hosted a Christie fundraiser last year at his Palo Alto home and donated $100 million in 2010 to try to overhaul public schools in Newark, N.J.