New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who signed legislation barring “gay conversion therapy” in his state, disagreed Friday with Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s comparison of homosexuality to alcoholism, saying it was wrong.
“I disagree with him, and I don’t believe that’s an apt analogy and not one that should be made,” Christie said during a San Francisco campaign appearance alongside Neel Kashkari, the GOP candidate for California governor.
Christie, who is head of the Republican Governors Assn., declined, however, to speak for the organization and its members. “Every governor and public official has to speak for themselves on these issues,” Christie told reporters. “I just spoke 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 also made that analogy in a 2008 book, as he noted during his appearance before the Commonwealth Club, a non-partisan speaker’s forum, and his views were discussed during his unsuccessful 2012 presidential campaign.
But his comments Wednesday night sparked new interest in light of the Texas Republican Party’s recent adoption of platform language endorsing so-called “reparative therapy,” which holds that counseling can change the sexual orientation of adults
Christie — like Perry, a possible 2016 candidate for the White House — last year signed a bill outlawing “reparative therapy” or “gay conversion” in his state. California also outlaws the practice.
The New Jersey governor was in California for several stops Friday that included closed-door fundraising for the Republican governors’ organization. He also appeared Thursday on the “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”
His stop in overwhelmingly Democratic San Francisco came on friendly turf, a flower warehouse 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 at a news conference about another statement Perry made, 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, who has grown 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 at the George Washington Bridge, is facing a probe 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., followed the refusal by the city’s mayor to endorse Christie’s 2013 reelection. The governor has said repeatedly that he knew nothing about the lane-closure plan.
For his part, speaking to reporters afterward, Kashkari said, he, too disagreed with Perry’s statements regarding gays and lesbians. Kashkari has broken with many in the Republican Party by supporting same-sex marriage.
“Somebody’s sexual orientation is nothing to be ‘treated,’” Kashkari said. “We are who we are.”
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