Dr. Ben Carson is an urbane, sophisticated, very intelligent man, as he has demonstrated in his public appearances over the last few months.
So what possessed him to say this to Sean Hannity on Fox the other night?
Marriage is between a man and a woman. 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’s apologized by implying that people misunderstood what he was saying:
“I think people have completely taken the wrong meaning out of what I was saying,” the 61-year-old surgeon said in a telephone interview Friday. “First of all, I certainly believe gay people should have all the rights that anybody else has. What I was basically saying is that as far as marriage is concerned that has traditionally been between a man and a woman and nobody should be able to change that.”
“Now perhaps the examples were not the best choice of words, and I certainly apologize if I offended anyone,” he added. “But the point that I was making was that no group of individuals, whoever they are, whatever their belief systems, gets to change traditional definitions. The reason I believe the way I do, I will readily confess, is because I am a Christian who believes in The Bible.”
The Bible, he explained, “…says we have an obligation to love our fellow man as ourselves, and I love everybody the same — all homosexuals. Everybody who knows me knows I would never say anything to intentionally hurt someone.”
It should be noted that if he believes that gays should have “all the rights anyone else has,” then he should be supporting gay marriage. Obviously, it was an inartful way to say he doesn’t think gays should be discriminated against — a position at odds with most of the Republican base who don’t think gays should be protected under affirmative action law.
Carson may not have meant to offend, but he connected the tired, old myths about gays and gay marriage that have been consistently debunked to the movement to legalize gay marriage. The notion that most (if not all) gay men are pedophiles and the idea that adopting gay marriage will lead to legalizing pedophilia and bestiality are strawman arguments, refuted by the facts and somewhat ridiculous. What judge or state legislature in their right mind is going to legalize pedophilia or bestiality? The argument is specious and insulting to boot.
Carson’s apology won’t satisfy those who don’t want to be satisfied — those who see an opportunity to tarnish the image of a rising political star for the GOP. But the real problem is that Carson wasn’t saying anything that much of the right wing doesn’t believe — and they can’t recognize the insult he made or the ignorance he displayed in making those claims.
Carson’s statement, no matter how well intentioned, points to the GOP’s real problem with figuring out how to talk about gays and gay marriage without sounding like a bunch of bigots.