A week after the dean of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine expressed concern at his recent commentaries on LGBT people, neurosurgeon and rising conservative media star Dr. Ben Carson has walked away from a commencement speaking gig at the university.
"Given all the national media surrounding my statements as to my belief in traditional marriage, I believe it would be in the best interest of the students for me to voluntarily withdraw as your commencement speaker this year," he explained to Dean Paul B. Rothman in a letter reviewed by The Baltimore Sun.
Carson apologized to his colleagues at the university last week in a message sent moments after Rothman chastised Carson in a mass email for using "hurtful, offensive language" that is "inconsistent with the culture of our institution." Carson said he was most sorry for anything that "caused pain for some members of our community," and vowed to find "much less offensive ways" to say that LGBT people do not deserve the right to marry.
Carson sparked a media furor when he appeared on the Fox News Republican talk show "Hannity" in March and compared being gay to raping children and having sex with animals, saying nobody involved in such activity should "get to change the definition" of marriage. Hannity subsequently defended his guest, saying: “He’s articulate, he’s smart, he’s got common sense.”
Carson later explained that by mentioning LGBT people and child rapists in the same breath, he wasn't necessarily comparing the two. “If you ask me for an apple and I give you an orange you would say, well that’s not an orange,” Carson told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. “And then I say, that’s a banana, that’s not an apple either. And there’s a peach, that’s not an apple, either. But it doesn’t mean that I’m equating the banana and the orange and the peach."
The Baltimore Sun noted that Carson's withdrawal from the Hopkins speaking gig was his own decision.