Ben Carson withdraws from commencement over gay marriage statements controversy

ben-carson-gay-marriage-controversy-fox-news.jpg Dr. Ben Carson has announced his withdrawal as commencement speaker at Johns Hopkins University after students launched a petition over comments Carson made to Fox News about gay marriage.

The Washington Post quotes Carson as saying to Fox, "[Traditional marriage is] 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."

NAMBLA is the North American Man/Boy Love Association, which advocates pedophilia.

In an email to the dean of Johns Hopkins medical school, Carson writes, "Given all the national media surrounding my statements as to my belief in traditional marriage, I believe it would be in the best interests of the students for me to voluntarily withdraw as your commencement speaker this year. My presence is likely to distract from the true celebratory nature of the day. Commencement is about the students and their successes, and it is not about me."

Carson had earlier apologized for the Fox News comments after the dean labeled them "offensive" and "inconsistent with the culture of our institution."

Carson made waves with his speech criticizing political correctness at the National Prayer Breakfast, attended by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in February. "We've reached a point where people are afraid to actually talk about what they want to say because somebody might be offended" Carson said during his speech at the annual Fellowship Foundation event.

He continued, calling political correctness dangerous. "This country -- one of the founding principles was freedom of thought and freedom of expression," Carson said. "And [political correctness] muffles people, it puts a muzzle on them, and at the same time keeps people from discussing important issues while the fabric of this society is being changed."

Carson is currently head of the Johns Hopkins Department of Pediatric Neurosurgery, but previously announced plans to retire from his position some time in 2013. Below is a video of Carson's full Prayer Breakfast speech.

Photo/Video credit: Fox News