(WASHINGTON) — Dr. Ben Carson, who suddenly gained star status with conservatives around the nation for his criticism of President Obama, has decided not to speak at the commencement at Johns Hopkins University.
Carson, currently the head of the Johns Hopkins Department of Pediatric Neurosurgery, recently came under fire for expressing controversial views on same-sex marriage.
During an interview on Fox News, Carson said, “[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.”
Carson later apologized for apparently linking gays to those who have sex with children or animals but that didn’t prevent students from petitioning to have him removed as commencement speaker.
In withdrawing as speaker Thursday, Carson said in an email, “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.”
However, Carson still maintained he’s a victim of “political correctness.” Some of his defenders contend that the physician is being unfairly targeted because he is a black conservative.
Carson’s stock with those on the right rose dramatically after his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this year when he raised objections to some of Obama’s policies with the president sitting right next to him on the dais.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Kevin Liptak, CNN
Nate Sunderland, EastIdahoNews.com
Jeremy Diamond, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN