The conservative neurosurgeon who drew fire for comparing LGBT advocacy to pedophilia and bestiality is now confirmed to speak at a high-profile conference this fall hosted by the anti-gay Family Research Council.
On Monday, the Family Research Council announced in an email blast to supporters it has confirmed Ben Carson, who formerly was a neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins University before retiring last month, for its Value Voters Summit in D.C. between Oct. 11-13.
In March, Carson sparked outrage when he said during an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity he believes marriage is one man, one woman — a definition that he called “a well-established fundamental pillar of society.”
“And no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association,) be they people who believe in bestiality — it doesn’t matter what they are — they don’t get to change the definition,” Carson continued.
At that time, Carson was set to deliver the commencement address for Johns Hopkins University. In a later interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Carson apologized “if anybody was offended” and said he’d be open to withdrawing as speaker if students didn’t want him. As controversy ensued and a student petition circulated calling for his removal as speaker, Carson withdrew from the ceremony.
Carson is considered a rising star in the Republican Party, and conservative commentators have talked about him engaging in political career. The Family Research Council’s notice touts his speaking role at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast and his designation as a Presidential Medal for Freedom recipient. Carson didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment on why he wanted to speak at the Values Voters Summit.
Speakers at the Values Voters Summit; a conference for social conservatives, often express anti-gay views. It remains to be seen whether Carson will speak to the issue of homosexuality during his remarks.
In last year’s summit, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan spoke as well as lawmakers like Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas), who decried the Obama administration for refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.
Michael Cole-Schwartz, a Human Rights Campaign spokesperson, said Carson’s decision to appear at the summit reinforces that he’s member of the far-right wing of the Republican Party.
“Ben Carson has further cemented his place on the far right wing with his association with the Family Research Council,” Cole-Schwartz said. “Their event is a cavalcade of some of the most virulently anti-LGBT leaders in this country and his divisive views will be in good company.”