Conservatives Gather For Annual CPAC Convention
Ben Carson addresses the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference on February 26, 2015 in National Harbor, Maryland.  Alex Wong—Getty Images

Ben Carson Apologizes For Saying Prison Makes People Gay

Mar 05, 2015

Likely Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson has apologized for saying that going to prison can make you gay.

On Wednesday morning, Carson was asked on CNN whether homosexuality is a choice. "Absolutely," he replied. "Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight -- and when they come out, they're gay."

Later that day, Carson backed away from his comments in a statement emailed to reporters. "I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation," he said. "I regret that my words to express that concept were hurtful and divisive. For that I apologize unreservedly to all that were offended."

He then cited his scientific training as informing his views of homosexuality. "I'm a doctor trained in multiple fields of medicine, who was blessed to work at perhaps the finest institution of medical knowledge in the world. Some of our brightest minds have looked at this debate, and up until this point there have been no definitive studies that people are born into a specific sexuality," he said. "We do know, however, that we are always born male and female. And I know that we are all made in God's image, which means we are all deserving of respect and dignity."

Carson said he supports "rights and Constitutional protections for gay people," including civil marriage and the rights of states to sanction gay marriage. Carson has said in the past that he personally opposes same-sex marriage. "Religious Marriage is an oath before God and congregation," he said in the statement. "Religious marriage must only be governed by the church. Judges and government must not be allowed to restrict religious belief."

Carson has recently made several staff hires for his prospective campaign and is expected to announce his candidacy for president in May.

Silent No More: Early Days in the Fight for Gay Rights

In commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, militants this year designated the last week in June as Gay Liberation Week and celebrated with a candlelight parade. The parade involved 300 male and female homosexuals, who marched without incident two miles from Gay Activists headquarters to a park near City Hall.
Caption from LIFE In commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, militants this year designated the last week in June as Gay Liberation Week and celebrated with a candlelight parade. The parade involved 300 male and female homosexuals, who marched without incident two miles from Gay Activists headquarters to a park near City Hall.Grey Villet—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
In commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, militants this year designated the last week in June as Gay Liberation Week and celebrated with a candlelight parade. The parade involved 300 male and female homosexuals, who marched without incident two miles from Gay Activists headquarters to a park near City Hall.
When a bill guaranteeing equal job opportunities for homosexuals stalled in New York City Council last spring, militants demonstrated at City Hall. With fists raised, they shout a football style "Gay Power" cheer at police blocking the building.
Gay rights protest, 1971.
A homosexual activist steps between a pair of police horses to be interviewed during a New York demonstration. Militants often charge police brutality and welcome arrest for the sake of publicity. They also encourage press coverage of their protest actions.
Gay rights protest, 1971.
Gay rights protest, California, 1971.
Gay rights protest, New York, 1971.
Collared by a patrolman after he deliberately crossed police barricades at New York's City Hall, Gay Activists Alliance President Jim Owles submits to arrest. Members of his organization were protesting City Council reluctance to debate a fair employment bill for homosexuals.
Gay rights protest, New York, 1971.
Gay rights protest, New York, 1971.
Gay rights protest, New York, 1971.
Gay Pride, 1971.
Gay Activists Alliance, New York, 1971.
Gay rights rally, 1971.
Gay rights event, 1971.
Caption from LIFE In commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, militants this year designated the
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Grey Villet—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
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