Ben Carson Faces Blowback After Human Rights Campaign Calls Him Out for His Anti-LGBT Rhetoric

by HRC Staff

Following withering criticism from the Human Rights Campaign and LGBT advocates across the country for his offensive suggestion that prison proves that sexual orientation is a choice, presidential hopeful Ben Carson has tried to “walk back” his rhetoric. HRC’s Fred Sainz released the following statement:

“Ben Carson’s “apology” wasn’t particularly genuine, but what it does show is that at a time when nine out of ten Americans know someone who is LGBT, and 60 percent of likely voters support marriage equality, even Ben Carson realized that his comments were offensive and have no place in a campaign in 2015,” said Fred Sainz, HRC’s Vice President of Communications. “Ben Carson’s ‘apology’ doesn’t really mean he’s sorry, but it should serve as a memo to other candidates that there’s no upside to peddling Carson’s brand of anti-LGBT views.”

After Carson’s comments were made public early yesterday, HRC called his comments “dangerous” on CNN, engaged its followers via social media, and said in a widely-reported statement that his interview and his anti-equality views made him “unfit for office.” Carson ended the day by saying late yesterday that he “he isn't going to talk about gay marriage anymore” during his campaign.

Here’s the tale of the tape on Carson’s offensive comments:

Ben Carson’s gay choice remarks irk gay rights supporters [McClatchy 3/5/15] “Gay rights supporters Wednesday blasted potential Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson’s assertion that prison proves that homosexuality is a matter of choice.”

Ben Carson: Prison proves being gay a choice [CNN 3/4/14] Jason Rahlan, Human Rights Campaign: “Ben Carson’s comments were jaw-droppingly bizarre, uninformed and fundamentally dangerous.”

Ben Carson: Many prisoners go in straight, come out gay [Politifact 3/4/15] “We’ll jump to the point here: There is no conclusive evidence to support Carson’s claim that 'a lot of people' make a switch from heterosexual to homosexual while in prison.”

Ben Carson Has Found Himself in Hot Water These 5 Times [ABC, 3/4/15] “Carson’s comments sparked outrage from the Human Rights Campaign."

Ben Carson: Being Gay Is 'Absolutely' A Choice [Huffington Post 3/4/15] “According to the Human Rights Campaign, other potential GOP candidates have weighed in on LGBT issues, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who said he thinks being gay is a personal choice, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who said engaging in 'homosexual conduct is a choice.' Fred Sainz, HRC Vice President of Communications, questioned Carson's comments in a statement Wednesday."

Ben Carson: Prison proves being gay is a choice [Washington Blade, 3/4/15] “Fred Sainz, vice president of communications for the Human Rights Campaign, said the neurosurgeon’s views on sexual orientation are out of line with medical science.”

Prisons Show Being Gay's a Choice, Says Ben Carson [The Advocate, 3/4/15] “HRC points out that Carson’s suggestion that an individual's sexual orientation is a choice is pushed by many right-wing religious groups in order to promote the concept of dangerous 'reparative' or 'conversion' therapy, a practice that has been outlawed for use on minors in New Jersey, California, and the District of Columbia. There is significant evidence of harm to LGBT people resulting from attempts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, and all major medical and mental health organizations in the United States condemn the use of reparative therapy.”

Ben Carson: Potential Republican presidential candidate says sexuality is a choice because 'straight people turn gay in prison' [The Independent, 3/4/15] “'The only thing that’s really been proven here is that when Ben Carson says what he really thinks, he reveals himself as utterly unfit for office,’ said Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign, an activist group based in Washington DC.”  

Ben Carson, potential GOP presidential candidate, says prison proves being gay is a choice [Seattle PI, 3/4/15] “The Human Rights Campaign was not amused. ‘The only thing that’s really been proven here is that when Ben Carson says what he really thinks, he reveals himself as utterly unfit for office,’ said Fred Sainz, HRC vice president of communications.”

'Insane': What Experts Say About Dr. Ben Carson's Claim That Prison Turns Men Gay [New Civil Rights Movement, 3/4/15] “The Human Rights Campaign, while not scientific experts, certainly are political experts. HRC VP Fred Sainz weighed in this morning on Carson's attack.”

HRC: ‘Ben Carson should know better than to call sexual orientation a choice’ [LGBT Weekly, 3/4/15] “Carson’s history of anti-LGBT rhetoric includes comparing same-sex marriage to NAMBLA and bestiality.”

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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