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Rising GOP star Ben Carson apologizes for remarks on gay marriage

Dr. Ben Carson on Friday apologized for remarks he made earlier in the week linking homosexuality to bestiality.

“I love gay people. I love straight people,” Carson said on CNN's “The Situation Room.” “So this was really, I think, on my behalf, somewhat insensitive and I certainly apologize if I offended anyone, because I was not in any way comparing gays with people who engage in bestiality or sexual child abuse.”

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Carson became an overnight sensation on the right after criticizing President Obama, who was seated directly to his right, at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this year.

The pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins University has since ramped up his profile giving interviews to cable news outlets, but ran into trouble this week when he was asked to weigh in on the same-sex marriage cases before the Supreme Court on Sean Hannity’s radio show.

Carson said that marriage is “a well-established, fundamental pillar of society and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality — it doesn't matter what they are, they don't get to change the definition.”

NAMBLA is the North American Man/Boy Love Association. 

Carson initially defended the comments as taken “out of context and completely misunderstood,” but the ongoing furor provoked students at his university to petition to have him removed as this year’s commencement speaker. On Friday, Carson said he would step aside if that’s what the students wanted.

“If the students want me to give it, I will give it,” he said. “If they don't want me to, if it's going to cause problems for them, I will be happy to withdraw.”

Following his apology, Carson reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage, saying marriage was “an institution that was established by God.” But, he added, that "as a Christian I have a duty to love all people and that includes people that have other sexual orientations.”

He said that marriage aside, gay and lesbian couples should have equal rights, such as the ability to visit sick partners in the hospital.

“I'm not sure that it's necessary for it to be called marriage for them to have equal rights. Nobody should have more rights than anybody else,” Carson said.