Potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson has apologized for saying prisons prove that being gay is a choice, and not determined solely through genetics.
"Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight -- and when they come out, they're gay," Carson said in an interview with CNN, OpposingViews previously reported. "So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question."
Carson’s comment was given as an example to defend his belief that sexual preference was a matter of personal choice, not something a person is born with, reports Rolling Stone.
An immediate backlash occurred on social media.
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Carson issued an apology to CNN hours later.
CNN’s Carol Costello posted a copy of the written apology to her Facebook page.
Carson's apology reads:
In a recent interview on CNN, I realized that my choice of language does not reflect fully my heart on gay issues.
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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.
Huffington Post cites the American Psychological Association as back-up to Carson’s argument that science has not fully proven how sexual orientation develops.
"Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors," the American Psychological Association says. "Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation."
This is not the first time Carson has made controversial statements in relation to homosexuality. In 2013, he compared homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia, and issued an apology afterwards for his “poorly chosen” remarks. His guffaw resulted in him withdrawing as the commencement speaker at the John Hopkins School of Medicine.
Carson assembled an exploratory committee to raise money ahead of a potential 2016 presidential bid the day before his CNN interview. In a straw poll of likely GOP candidates at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington D.C., he finished fourth.