Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson said Friday he is "absolutely" prepared to step down as commencement speaker for the university's medical school after controversial remarks he made this week about gay marriage.
Carson apologized for any offense taken by his comments, when he was accused of comparing gay relationships with pedophilia and bestiality during an appearance on Fox News on Tuesday.
"Marriage is between a man and a woman," Carson said on "Hannity". "It's 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."
Hopkins students took up a petition for a new speaker, citing Carson's comments about gays; his National Prayer Breakfast speech that he used to "deride Obamacare, advocate lower taxes for the wealthy, and suggest that Christianity requires supporting Republican policies"; and his rejection of evolution.
"We retain the highest respect for Dr. Carson's achievements and value his right to publicly voice political views. Nevertheless, we feel that these expressed values are incongruous with the values of Johns Hopkins and deeply offensive to a large proportion our student body," members of the Health and Human Rights Student Group said Thursday.
On Friday, Carson said on MSNBC he "never had any intention of offending anyone" with his remarks about gays.
“What I was basically saying -- and if anyone was offended, I apologize to you -- what I was basically saying is there is no group. I wasn’t equating those things, I don’t think they’re equal," he said. "My point was that once we start changing the definitions, then where do we stop? We can go with anything."
Carson said he "certainly" doesn't have "any problem with people who are gay having legal arrangements."
"In fact, any two adults -- gay, straight, whatever -- certainly they can have legal arrangements so they can share property and have inheritance rights and visitation rights. That's a kind thing to do, they should be treated just as anyone else," he said.
Asked whether he would be willing to step down as commencement speaker after the outcry from students, Carson said yes.
“Absolutely. I would say this is their day and the last thing I would want to do is rain on their parade,” he said.
Carson said he has not informed the university of his decision.
“I am waiting for appropriate channels,” he said. “I don’t think television is the appropriate channel.”