Commonwealth Club interviewer Greg Dalton then asked him whether he believes homosexuality is a 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 large crowd gathered at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins hotel on Nob Hill included many Perry supporters. But the comment still drew a murmur of disbelief.