Ben Carson apologized Wednesday for asserting earlier in the day that prisons prove people aren't born gay, saying that he now realizes his comments were "hurtful and divisive."
During an appearance on CNN's "New Day" yesterday, Carson told host Chris Cuomo that the fight for LGBT rights like marriage equality is not akin to the civil rights struggle, because race is a matter over which people have "no control." Pressed on whether he believes people can control their sexual orientation, Carson replied, "Absolutely." The neurosurgeon-turned-conservative politician then cited prisons as evidence.
"[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? Ask yourself that question,” he said.
Following fierce criticism, Carson expressed regret for his remarks in a statement provided to CNN.
"I realized that my choice of language does not reflect fully my heart on gay issues," he said. "I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation. I regret that my words to express that concept were hurtful and divisive. For that I apologize unreservedly to all that were offended."
While he opposes marriage equality, Carson added that he favors civil unions for gay couples and believes that the question of same-sex marriage should be left up to the states -- i.e., one's rights should be contingent on where one lives.
"I also think that Marriage is a religious institution," Carson continued. "Religious Marriage is an oath before God and congregation. Religious marriage must only be governed by the church. Judges and government must not be allowed to restrict religious beliefs."
That's a red herring. The campaign for civil marriage equality has nothing to do with religious marriage rituals. In states that already enjoy marriage equality, there has been no effort to force houses of worship to perform same-sex marriages, as such coercion would be unconstitutional.