Dr. Ben Carson on Friday defended comments he made earlier this week that linked homosexuality to bestiality.
Carson, a rising GOP star who came to fame in conservative circles with remarks critical of President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast, said in an interview on MSNBC that his comments had been taken out of context.
"I think what was said on Sean Hannity's show, that was taken completely out of context and completely misunderstood in terms of what I was trying to say," Carson said. "As a Christian I have a duty to love all people and that includes people that have other sexual orientations, and I certainly do."
Carson added that he hadn't meant to equate same-sex marriage to bestiality.
"I wasn't equating those things, I don't think that they're equal," Carson said.
But the pediatric neurosurgeon maintained his opposition for gay marriage.
"My impression is what's being asked for is the convenience of the title 'marriage,' which is an institution that was established by God, and I'm not sure that that is the same thing" as letting same-sex couples have the same federal rights as heterosexual couples," Carson said. "Everybody has right of association and if we don't give them the right to transfer property and have visitation et cetera, then we really should be examining that."
During an interview on Sean Hannity's radio show on Tuesday, Carson, a neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins University, argued 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 on Friday said his opposition to same-sex marriage was not based on antagonism toward gays, but on Biblical beliefs.
"And when I say we don't want to change it or degrade it by calling it marriage that's not aimed at any particular group," he said of gay marriage. The Bible and God "have set very specific standards," Carson said. "It's very clear what's being said. God doesn't change, man changes."
Carson's comments on Hannity's radio show resulted in an effort by some Johns Hopkins students to replace Carson as the 2013 commencement speaker. Carson suggested he would not be the speaker if that's what the students wanted.
"I would say that this is their day and the last thing I want to do is rain on their parade," Carson said. "I am waiting for appropriate channels."