A gay marriage controversy has forced well-regarded pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson to step down from speaking and Johns Hopkins graduation ceremonies, as the doctor feels his presence would be too much of a distraction at this point.
The gay marriage controversy began for Dr. Carson when he appeared last month on Hannity, to discuss with Sean Hannity the topic of gay marriage, among other things. In remarks made on the show that later became controversial, the Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon likened homosexuality to pedophilia and bestiality when he said:
“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.”
In the direct aftermath, Carson apologized half-heartedly for the gay marriage remarks, saying first that he “never had any intention of offending anyone,” and later saying in an email that his “poorly chosen words caused pain for some members of our community” and that subsequently, he “offer[s] a most sincere and heartfelt apology.”
Pressure mounted in the form of a student petition, in which Carson’s gay marriage remarks were decried as “incongruous with the values of Johns Hopkins and deeply offensive to a large proportion our student body.”
In an email to Johns Hopkins medical school dean Paul Rothman, Dr. Ben Carson stepped down amid the controversy.
“Given all the national media surrounding my statements as to my belief in traditional marriage, I believe it would be in the best interests of the students for me to voluntarily withdraw as your commencement speaker this year … My presence is likely to distract from the true celebratory nature of the day. Commencement is about the students and their successes, and it is not about me.”
Rothman had previously described the gay marriage remarks as “inconsistent with the culture of our institution.”