HRC to GOP Candidates: Where Do You Stand on Herman Cain’s Remarks?

by Carolyn Simon

Presidential hopefuls should clarify if they also believe sexual orientation is a choice


Washington – One day after GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain appeared on “The View” and declared that people choose to be gay, the Human Rights Campaign - the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization – is asking Cain’s fellow candidates to clarify where they stand on the issue.

“Issues of LGBT equality and discrimination have played a role in the GOP primaries to date – from Michele Bachmann’s anti-gay past and ties to reparative therapy, to audience members booing a brave gay active duty service member,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “When it came to reparative therapy, the GOP field kept silent and didn’t rebuke Michele Bachmann. When Rick Perry partnered with leading anti-gay groups to sponsor an exclusive, Christian-only day of prayer, the GOP field kept silent. It’s time for these candidates to take a stand and either call Herman Cain out for his remarks or admit that they share his extremist beliefs.”

Cain’s fellow candidates should be mindful that implying one’s sexual orientation is a choice is dangerous because it gives value to roundly disproven practices like ‘conversion’ or ‘reparative’ therapy – the side effects of which include depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior. Leading medical organizations including the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the American Medical Association, among others, have come out strongly against attempts to change sexual orientation.

The anti-gay animus is not new to the GOP presidential campaign. Michele Bachman has a long track record of spreading lies about homosexuality – including saying that being gay was like being “part of Satan;” and her husband Marcus is alleged to have practiced reparative therapy at his Minnesota clinic. Rick Perry also has a proven anti-gay record, culminating in his August “Response” event – sponsored by the rabidly anti-gay American Family Association. And Rick Santorum has long attacked LGBT Americans, most recently blasting the implementation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal at a debate that featured audience members booing a gay active duty servicemember.

In his remarks on “The View,” Cain said that if someone showed him “the science,” he’d be open to changing his opinion. Dr. Jack Drescher, MD, a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a member of the DSM-5 Workgroup on Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders, is willing to meet with Cain to discuss the medical aspects of the matter.

“Herman Cain’s opinion that being gay is a choice has no basis in current scientific thinking,” said Dr. Drescher, who also served as a past Chair of APA’s Committee on GLB Issues. “Not only is homosexuality ‘not a choice,’ as most efforts to try and change a person's sexual orientation fail, but some attempts to change can cause harm and damage to an individual’s well-being.”

HRC is urging its members and supporters to act now and tell Herman Cain his views are outdated and out of step with mainstream Americans. Learn more about the dangers of reparative therapy at

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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