Just two days after launching his exploratory committee, potential Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson found himself in hot water for arguing on CNN that prison proves homosexuality 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?” the retired neurosurgeon said this morning. “Ask yourself that question.”
Carson’s comments sparked outrage from the Human Rights Campaign.
"Ben Carson is putting his own personal ambition ahead of medical science by suggesting that a person can change their sexual orientation,” HRC’s Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz said in a statement today. “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.
“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.”
This is not the first time Carson has found his name in a headline next to the word “controversial.”
Scrutiny of his past comments has led Carson to clarify his statements more than once.
‘POORLY CHOSEN WORDS’ ON HOMOSEXUALITY
Carson’s views on homosexuality have sparked outrage before.
“Marriage is between a man and a woman, it’s a well-established fundamental pillar of society,” Carson said in an interview with FOX News’ Sean Hannity in 2013. “No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA [North American Man-Boy Love Association], be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn’t matter what they are. They don’t get to change the definition.”
“It’s not something that’s against gays, it’s against anybody who wants to come along and change the fundamental definitions of pillars of society,” he added.
Enraged by Carson’s comparison of homosexuality with bestiality and pedophilia, students at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine petitioned the school to jettison him as their commencement speaker.
Carson, who was director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, voluntarily stepped down as commencement speaker and apologized for his comments, saying in a letter to the dean, “My poorly chosen words caused pain for some members of our community and for that I offer a most sincere and heartfelt apology ... Although I do believe marriage is between a man and a woman, there are much less offensive ways to make that point.”
ISIS AND US PATRIOTS ‘WILLING TO DIE’
At the RNC winter meeting earlier this year, Carson made what some saw as an inappropriate comparison between ISIS and America’s Revolutionary War heroes.
"A bunch of rag-tag militiamen defeated the most powerful and professional military force on the planet. Why? Because they believed in what they were doing. They were willing to die for what they believed in," Carson, 63, said, according to NBC News. "Fast forward to today. What do we have? You've got ISIS. They've got the wrong philosophy, but they're willing to die for it while we are busily giving away every belief and every value for the sake of political correctness. We have to change that."
In an interview with FOX News' Bill O’Reilly, Carson reiterated that he was “not saying that as a comparison between our patriots and ISIS.”
OBAMACARE – WORST THING ‘SINCE SLAVERY'
A fierce opponent of the Affordable Care Act, Carson made headlines back in 2013 for equating Obamacare to slavery.
“I have to tell you, you know Obamacare is really, I think, the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” Carson, who’s African-American, said at the conservative Values Voters Summit in 2013. “And it is slavery in a way because it is making all of us subservient to the government.”
Carson addressed his remarks on “Fox and Friends,” saying, “the issue that I was bringing up is not slavery. The issue is that we have taken the most important thing we have as free Americans and turned it over to the government.”
‘WE ARE VERY MUCH LIKE NAZI GERMANY’
“We are very much like Nazi Germany,” Carson said in an interview with Breitbart News last March. “And I know you’re not supposed to say ‘Nazi Germany,’ but I don’t care about political correctness. You know, you had a government using its tools to intimidate the population. We now live in a society where people are afraid to say what they actually believe.”
Carson doubled down on his statements more than once, most recently telling CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, “What you were doing is allowing words to affect you more than listening to what was actually being said. And that's part of the problem. You are just focusing on the words 'Nazi Germany' and completely missing the point of what is being said."