Dr. Ben Carson, director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md., maintained his opposition to same-sex marriage this past Friday, but also apologized for previous comments he made on the subject, which Carson argues were misinterpreted by many as comparing same-sex marriage to bestiality or pedophilia.
Carson offered a "sincere and heartfelt" apology for his previous comments in a Friday email reportedly addressed to the Johns Hopkins community.
"There are many lessons to be learned when venturing into the political world and this is one I will not forget," Carson said in the email, according to New York Magazine.
"Although I do believe marriage is between a man and a woman, there are much less offensive ways to make that point. I hope all will look at a lifetime of service over some poorly chosen words," Carson added.
Also on Friday, Paul Rothman, dean of the medical facility at Johns Hopkins as well as chief executive officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine, sent out an email distancing Carson's previous comments regarding same-sex marriage to the hospital's stance on the subject.
"[W]e recognize that tension now exists in our community because hurtful, offensive language was used by our colleague, Dr. Ben Carson, when conveying a personal opinion," Rothman wrote in his email, also reported by New York Magazine.
"Dr. Carson's comments are inconsistent with the culture of our institution," Rothman continued, adding that the Baltimore-based hospital "embraces diversity and believes that the same civil rights should be available to all regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation."
Rothman also asserted that Carson, as a private citizen, has a right to express his opinions regarding religion, as well as social and political issues, and ultimately this controversy is a result of one's freedom of expression conflicting with the hospital's values.
Carson's previous comments regarding same-sex marriage came during a March 26 interview on Fox News' "Hannity," during which the well-known neurosurgeon said:
"My thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman."
"It's a well-established, fundamental pillar of society, and no group, be the 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," Carson told host Sean Hannity, referencing the North American Man/Boy Love Association.
Carson received backlash from some who argued he was comparing same-sex marriage to bestiality, but Carson later asserted that his comments were taken out of context and misinterpreted.
Carson told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell that his comments were "completely taken out of context and completely misunderstood," and also asserted on CNN's "The Situation Room" that he loves all people, whether gay or straight.
"As a Christian, we have a duty to love everyone and to love them as themselves. And so I love gay people, I love straight people. So, this was really, I think, on my behalf somewhat insensitive and I certainly apologize if I offended anyone because I was not in any way comparing gays with people who engage in bestiality or sexual child abuse," Carson said on "The Situation Room" in March.
Ben Carson, who is retiring from neurosurgery in June, gained widespread media attention in March during his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, which was centered around the issue of political correctness in the U.S. as well as a criticism of the country's health care system.