Dr. Ben Carson steps down as college speaker after furor over his defense of marriage
BALTIMORE, April 11, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Famed pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson announced Wednesday that he will not speak at graduation ceremonies for students at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and School of Education.
Dr. Carson, who rose from poverty to become one of the leading neurosurgeons in the world, was slated to give the commencement speech at Johns Hopkins, where he has practiced since 1977. But homosexual activists, angry about comments Carson made in favor of traditional marriage, mounted a campaign to force the university to disinvite him.
Carson, 61, discussed his views on same-sex “marriage” last month on Fox News, expressing his concern that a redefinition of marriage to include homosexual couples could be a slippery slope.
“Marriage is between a man and a woman,” Carson told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “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.”
He clarified his statement was not aimed “against gays; it’s against anybody who wants to come along and change the fundamental definitions of pillars of society. It has significant ramifications.”
Last week, medical school dean Paul Rothman released a statement calling Carson’s remarks “hurtful, offensive,” and “inconsistent with the culture of our institution.”
He agreed to meet with student supporters of same-sex “marriage,” who said Carson’s views made him an unacceptable graduation speaker.
On Wednesday, Carson responded to Rothman with a letter in which he volunteered to step aside as commencement speaker so as to avoid spoiling the graduates’ day with controversy and publicity.
“Given all the national media surrounding my statements as to my belief in traditional marriage, I believe it would be in the best interest of the students for me to voluntarily withdraw as your commencement speaker this year,” Carson wrote.
However, Carson also lamented that the culture of political correctness has made it impossible to discuss controversial issues in any meaningful way.
“Someday in the future,” he wrote, “it is my hope and prayer that the emphasis on political correctness will decrease and we will start emphasizing rational discussion of differences, so we can actually resolve problems and chart a course that is inclusive of everyone.”
Although Johns Hopkins spokeswoman Kim Hoppe denied that the university had anything to do with Carson’s decision, some observers think behind-the-scenes pressure was what promoted the doctor to step down as speaker.
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“I think it was unfortunate that he was encouraged to step down because he was expressing his First Amendment rights on this issue,” David Ferguson, head of the Maryland Republican Party, told the Baltimore Sun. “I don't think it’s fair. I don't think it’s in the spirit of the university environment where you're supposed to respect diversity of opinions.”
Derek McCoy of the Maryland Family Alliance told the Sun he believed Carson’s withdrawal from the commencement program was a loss for the students.
“Here you have a doctor who has had an incredible, impeccable medical career, but yet because he makes a fundamental stance about what he believes about marriage, he is suddenly ostracized,” McCoy told the Sun.
A speaker to replace Carson at the two graduation ceremonies has not been announced.
Although Carson's story has been known for some time, he became a national celebrity after criticizing ObamaCare in front of the president during the National Prayer Breakfast.
Johns Hopkins University recently made headlines when it refused to recognize a pro-life organization, Voice for Life, as a bona fide student group. It changed its ruling Tuesday after legal intervention.