Rising conservative star, neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson refined comments he made regarding the definition of marriage and gay relationships on Friday after coming under fire from liberal groups who took offense to a statement that he made on the issue earlier this week.
"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 they 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 Fox News' Sean Hannity on Tuesday.
Since then, however, the director of Johns Hopkins Hospital's division of Pediatric Neurosurgery has come under fire from various groups who interpreted his statement as anti-gay. The groups include students and faculty at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine who petitioned his planned appearance as the school's commencement speaker.
Carson told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell in an interview on Friday that he was willing to step down as speaker and apologized to anyone who interpreted his comments as anti-gay.
"What I was basically saying and if anyone was offended, I apologize to you. What I was basically saying is there is no group. I wasn't equating those things, I don't think they're equal. If you ask me for an apple and I give you an orange you would say, that's not an orange. And I say, that's a banana. And that's not an apple either. Or a peach, that's not an apple, either. It doesn't mean that I'm equating the banana and the orange and the peach. In the same way I'm not equating those things," said Carson in the interview.
"My impression is what's being asked for is the convenience of the title marriage, which is an institution that was established by God," Carson stressed. "You know, I'm not sure that is the same thing. Everybody has right of association. And if we don't give them the right to transfer property and to have you know, visitation, etc., then we really should be examining that."
When asked if he had told Johns Hopkins that he would step down as commencement speaker, Carson said he hadn't and refused to go into the discussion on television.
"I am waiting for appropriate channels," Carson said. "I don't think television is the appropriate channel."
When asked about his decision to get into the political discourse Carson said he wanted to restore civility to serious issues that America is currently grappling with.
"My goal is to help move our country in the right direction. My goal is to get people to be able to have discussions about things about which they disagree in a civil way, not call each other names and get into all kinds of infantile type of discussions," Carson told Mitchell. "We don't need to do that. We have so many pressing problems in our country and at some point we're going to have to tone down the rhetoric and just move toward solutions to the multitudinous problems or we're going to go right down the tubes just like every other pinnacle nation that has done many of the same things we're doing. We need to talk about these things."