(CNN) - A comparison between alcoholism and homosexuality by Texas Gov. Rick Perry is raising eyebrows.
At a speech in San Francisco, the longtime Republican governor - who ran for the White House in 2012 and is considering another bid in 2016 - was asked whether he thought homosexuality was a disorder.
"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," Perry said.
According to CNN affiliate KPIX, some people in the pro-Perry audience gasped when they heard the governor's remarks.
Perry's address to the Commonwealth of California Club was mostly focused on economic issues. The Texas governor is in California as part of a trip to try to bring jobs and business to the Lone Star State.
Perry's comments also came just days after Texas Republicans, meeting at their state convention, approved language in their party platform that includes support for voluntary psychological "therapy" targeted at converting homosexuals to heterosexuals. That stance stands in contrast to both California and New Jersey, which have banned such therapy.
Separately, a federal judge in February struck down the Texas ban on same-sex marriage, but the ruling has been stayed as it is appealed.
Spokeswoman Lucy Nashed underscored the governor's belief that marriage should be between one man and one woman.
"He has been clear on his position that each state has the right to define marriage to reflect the views of its citizens," she said.
The Human Rights Campaign, a leading organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, hit back at Perry's comments in a statement on Wednesday.
"Although he may not have the 'genetic coding' to think before he speaks, Rick Perry, M.D. should have a real conversation with actual doctors before voicing his expertise on these issues,” said HRC's Fred Sainz.
“Every major mental health and medical organization in the country has condemned practices aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation.”
CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story