Ben Carson, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, issued a lengthy apology Wednesday night after he made a controversial comment on homosexuality and the prison system earlier in the day.
In a Facebook post, the retired neurosurgeon and conservative darling said, “I apologise unreservedly to all that were offended.”
“In a recent interview on CNN, I realised that my choice of language does not reflect fully my heart on gay issues,” he said. “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.”
Carson was responding to backlash from an appearance he made on CNN Wednesday morning where he claimed homosexuality is “absolutely” a choice and cited prisons as his evidence.
“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?” Carson asked. “Ask yourself that question.”
His comments were widely condemned by gay rights advocates. The Human Rights Campaign issued a statement saying, as a doctor, Carson should know the medical community strongly disagrees with his theory.
“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,” said Fred Sainz, a HRC vice president. “As a doctor, Carson surely knows that countless mental health and medical organisations have condemned the idea that you can change a person’s sexual orientation.”
For his part, however, Carson claimed medical professionals have yet to definitively figure out whether or not people are born gay.
“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,” he said.
Carson also described himself as humbled by the controversy.
“I am not a politician and I answered a question without really thinking about it thoroughly,” he said. “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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