Dr. Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon who’s a rising star for political conservatives, said Friday that he wants to restore civility to American political discourse and acknowledged that he is prepared to step down as commencement speaker at Johns Hopkins University.
Students at Johns Hopkins have circulated a petition to replace Carson, who’s retiring this year, as the university’s commencement speaker after he made incendiary remarks regarding marriage equality this week. He told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that he’s willing to honor those students’ wishes.
Carson, the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, on Tuesday called hetero-sexual marriage “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.”
Today on MSNBC, however, he was a bit more moderated in his language:
“I think people have completely taken the wrong meaning out of what I was saying,” Carson said. “First of all, I certainly believe gay people should have all the rights that anybody else has. What I was basically saying is that as far as marriage is concerned that has traditionally been between a man and a woman and nobody should be able to change that.”
Nonetheless, he conceded that “perhaps the examples were not the best choice of words, and I certainly apologize if I offended anyone….the point that I was making was that no group of individuals, whoever they are, whatever their belief systems, gets to change traditional definitions. The reason I believe the way I do, I will readily confess, is because I am a Christian who believes in The Bible.”