Ben Carson issued an apology Wednesday for stating prison sex proves being gay is a choice.
Taking to his Facebook page, Carson apologized “unreservedly to all that were offended” and expressed regret if his statements were hurtful or divisive. Hours earlier, Carson said during an interview with CNN that being gay is “absolutely” a choice.
“Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight and when they come out, they’re gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question,” said Carson, who has been exploring a bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
“If that is in fact the case, then it obviously thwarts” the notion that being gay is not a choice, he continued, despite a majority of the medical community in agreement that gay people have no control over their sexual orientation.
Carson faced criticism for his remarks, including from the nation’s largest LGBT-rights organization. “The only thing that’s really been proven here is that when Ben Carson says what he really thinks, he reveals himself as utterly unfit for office,” Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement. “Ben Carson is putting his own personal ambition ahead of medical science by suggesting that a person can change their sexual orientation. As a doctor, Carson surely knows that countless mental health and medical organizations have condemned the idea that you can change a person’s sexual orientation.”
In his apology, Carson said he does not pretend to know how “every individual came to their sexual orientation” and expressed support for civil unions, the right of states to sanction same-sex marriage and the human rights and Constitutional protections of gay people.
“I am not a politician and I answered a question without really thinking about it thoroughly. No excuses,” Carson continued. “I deeply regret my statement and I promise you, on this journey, I may err again, but unlike politicians when I make an error I will take full responsibility and never hide or parse words. As a human being my obligation is to learn from my mistakes and to treat all people with respect and dignity.”
Read Carson’s full statement:
In a recent interview on CNN, I realized that my choice of language does not reflect fully my heart on gay issues.
I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation. I regret that my words to express that concept were hurtful and divisive. For that I apologize unreservedly to all that were offended.
I’m a doctor trained in multiple fields of medicine, who was blessed to work at perhaps the finest institution of medical knowledge in the world. Some of our brightest minds have looked at this debate, and up until this point there have been no definitive studies that people are born into a specific sexuality. We do know, however, that we are always born male and female. And I know that we are all made in God’s image, which means we are all deserving of respect and dignity.
I support human rights and Constitutional protections for gay people, and I have done so for many years. I support civil unions for gay couples, and I have done so for many years. I support the right of individual states to sanction gay marriage, and I support the right of individual states to deny gay marriage in their respective jurisdictions.
I also think that marriage is a religious institution. Religious marriage is an oath before God and congregation. Religious marriage must only be governed by the church. Judges and government must not be allowed to restrict religious beliefs.
I am not a politician and I answered a question without really thinking about it thoroughly. No excuses. I deeply regret my statement and I promise you, on this journey, I may err again, but unlike politicians when I make an error I will take full responsibility and never hide or parse words. As a human being my obligation is to learn from my mistakes and to treat all people with respect and dignity.
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