Dr. Ben Carson, LBGT, prison, GOP, Jim Patterson, human rights, advocacy, Jesse Helms, bigotry, criticism, african american, presidential run, John Hopkins University,

Reviewing Dr. Ben Carson on Gay Civil Rights

In the aftermath of GOP 2016 presidential contender Dr. Ben Carson’s recent stunning “prison” explanation for homosexuality, it is illuminating to look at some of his past statements on the subject.

For the uninitiated, Carson, a retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon, New York Times bestselling author, and columnist for the conservative press, told CNN that being gay was a choice. Carson is African American and straight.

As proof homosexuality is a choice, Dr. Carson, said, “Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay.” Dr. Carson did not quantify his sample size for this statement, which had some associates in my office gasping.

Then, Dr. Carson concluded with, “So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question.” Astonishing!

Dr. Carson was quick to hit the airwaves with something approaching an apology: “My choice of language does not reflect fully my heart on gay issues,” he said in a statement to the cable network.

He continued: “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.”

A review of Dr. Carson’s 2014 One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future (Sentinel, $25.95) shows he has apologized before when he ventured into the subject of homosexuality. The preface to the book is Dr. Carson’s 17-page address to the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, attended by President and Mrs. Obama.

Sexual subjects Dr. Carson includes in his book are homosexuality, bestiality, homophobia, gay marriage, morality, and North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). These subjects come up time and again throughout the book for an estimated 35 pages.

In a chapter on political correctness, Dr. Carson states the political correctness police (PCP) forbid … “mention of homosexuality in anything other than a positive context.” It is interesting Dr. Carson feels his “prison” explanation for homosexuality is a “positive” statement.

After his address to the National Prayer Breakfast, Dr. Carson was asked about his opinion on gay marriage. He said he believed in traditional marriage and “that no group has the right to change the definition of marriage to suit their needs.” He proceeded to mention NAMBLA and bestiality. Why? They are nontraditional sexual relationships he does not believe in.

Carson found “secular progressives” tried to “paint me as a homophobe who thinks that gay marriage is equivalent to bestiality.” Does Carson think so? “Nothing could be further from the truth,” he writes unconvincingly. He appeared in CNN and MSNBC to refute he made any such comparison.

Gay activists at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine charged Carson a homophobe and he withdrew as commencement speaker. Carson met with “some prominent members of the gay community at Johns Hopkins” and learned “bestiality is particularly abhorrent in the gay community and the mention of it evokes a very a very emotional response.”

It is shocking to me that Carson, who is 65 and an academic at Johns Hopkins University, has no gay friends with whom to discuss gay issues until he puts his foot in his mouth. Further, as a member of a minority he seemingly had no concerns for the lives of another minority groups, i.e. gays. Assuming Carson is a rational human being, why would he even imply or associate a relationship between gay people and bestiality? One reason could be he intended to make the association.

In a chapter on bigotry, Carson, after a lengthy section on religious bigotry, addresses homophobia – in two paragraphs. Dr. Carson does not support gay bashing and he is thankful it is waning.

In his second paragraph, Dr. Carson observes that hate speech is being directed at those who don’t embrace the gay agenda. This is legacy bigotry language straight from the late GOP Senator Jesse Helms. I ought to know as Helms used it against me in 1994.

Carson does not include Helms in the index. I suspect because segregationist Helms is on record a few times using the N-word and calling Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “a Communist,” though he lied about it in his memoir. Carson ought to be asked about his thoughts on Jesse Helms.

“One Nation” is heavy on religious messaging and the message that Ben Carson is retired and wants to make a contribution to politics. His life story of rising from poverty in Detroit to a remarkable 35-year medical career is inspiring.

The book lacks the inspiration of Carson’s life and his completely confusing, complicated, and chaotic understanding of the LGBT civil rights movement is hard to understand. Perhaps, Carson, as are other 2016 GOP presidential candidates, is evolving on LGBT issues. Based on this book and Carson’s “prison” explanation of homosexuality, he has a long evolution ahead of him.

About Jim Patterson: Human Rights Advocate Jim Patterson is a writer, speaker, and lifelong diplomat for dignity for all people. In a remarkable life spanning the civil rights movement to today’s human rights struggles, he stands as a voice for the voiceless. A prolific writer, he documents history’s wrongs and the struggle for dignity to provide a roadmap to a more humane future. Learn more at www.HumanRightsIssues.com


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