Ceding to student wishes and interests, Dr. Ben Carson said Wednesday that he’ll step aside as Johns Hopkins School of Medicine's commencement speaker after his recent controversial statements regarding gay marriage sparked a protest and flurry of media stories.
The 61-year-old neurosurgeon referenced bestiality and pedophilia while stating his case against gay marriage in a recent Fox News television interview. The dean of the Hopkins medical faculty, Dr. Paul Rothman, called Carson's remarks “offensive” and Carson apologized for his choice of words.
In an email to Rothman published today, Carson announced he will voluntarily step down from speaking at the Hopkins' graduation ceremony, explaining that it is in the best interests of the students:
“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,” Carson wrote. “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.”
The Washington Post noted that Carson said he will be retiring from his position as head of the Johns Hopkins Department of Pediatric Neurosurgery later this year. That decision, along with remarks made that were viewed as critical of President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast this year, have led some to speculate that Carson is considering a political career.