UPDATED: 12:30 p.m. – Johns Hopkins University is standing by Dr. Ben Carson, even after the neurosurgeon’s anti-gay remarks, Dennis O’Shea, executive director of the university’s media relations said.
“Dr. Carson is a distinguished Johns Hopkins surgeon and scientist chosen to speak at the School of Medicine diploma ceremony because of his extraordinary accomplishments as a neurosurgeon and his many contributions as an advocate for education and children,” O’Shea said in an email to The Huffington Post. “He was not asked to speak because of his personal political, religious or social views. His personal views are just that, his own. When he speaks about them, he is not speaking on behalf of Johns Hopkins.”
Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson told Andrea Mitchell Friday that he is prepared to refrain from speaking at the university’s School of Medicine commencement ceremony, after students and faculty petitioned over comments he made this week that were widely seen as anti-gay.
Carson told FOX News host Sean Hannity Tuesday, “My thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman. It’s 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.”
Carson’s comparison of gay relationships to pedophilia (NAMBLA stands for the North American Man/Boy Love Association) and bestiality has caused the pediatric neurosurgeon to fall from his perch as a Republican rising a star in recent days. Earlier this month, he drew a standing ovation at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and just last month, he publicly slammed President Obama’s position on taxes, the deficit, and health care while addressing three thousand people at the National Prayer Breakfast. The president watched from the dais, just a few feet away. In 2008, former President George W. Bush presented Carson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Asked by Mitchell Tuesday whether he was prepared to withdraw as commencement speaker amid pressure from students and faculty, Carson replied, “Absolutely. I would say this is their day and the last thing I would want to do is rain on their parade.”
Carson said he has not told the university that he will not be delivering the commencement address.
“I am waiting for appropriate channels,” Carson said. “I don’t think television is the appropriate channel.”
Carson also offered an apology for his Tuesday comments and addressed his mention of bestiality and pedophilia.
“What I was basically saying and if anyone was offended, I apologize to you. What I was basically saying is there is no group. I wasn’t equating those things, I don’t think they’re equal. If you ask me for an apple and I give you an orange you would say, that’s not an orange. And I say, that’s a banana. And that’s not an apple either. Or a peach, that’s not an apple, either. It doesn’t mean that I’m equating the banana and the orange and the peach. In the same way I’m not equating those things.”
Carson’s comments come during a landmark week for gay rights, as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday on California’s Proposition 8 gay marriage ban and Wednesday on the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Mitchell pointed out that there are over 1,000 federal statutes which apply only to people who are married, including tax advantages and Social Security benefits.
“My impression is what’s being asked for is the convenience of the title marriage, which is an institution that was established by God,” Carson said. “You know, I’m not sure that is the same thing. Everybody has right of association. And if we don’t give them the right to transfer property and to have you know, visitation, etc., then we really should be examining that.”