Ben Carson echoed his history of opposition to LGBT rights Thursday when he implied they were “extra rights” during his confirmation hearing to become the next secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
Questioning on the issue came from Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who, after saying LGBT people “face discrimination, as you know, and alarmingly high rates of youth homelessness and bullying,” asked whether HUD has a duty to promote equal access opportunities to LGBT people.
Donald Trump’s pick to head the Department of Housing & Urban Development said he intends to apply the law to protect all people, but echoed his history of demeaning remarks about LGBT rights by saying he doesn’t believe any group is entitled to “extra rights.”
“If confirmed in this position, of course I would enforce all the laws of the land, and I believe that all Americans regardless of any of the things that you mentioned should be protected by the law,” Carson said. “What I mentioned in the past is the fact no one gets extra rights. Extra rights means you get to redefine everything for everybody else. That, to me, doesn’t seem to be very democratic.”
When Brown responded he’s “glad to hear you say you will respect that,” presumably referring to the nominee’s pledge to enforce the law, Carson replied, “Absolutely.”
Carson, who has called the LGBT community “a few people who perhaps are abnormal” and undeserving of equal protection under the law, has animated his political career with comments disparaging LGBT people. During his presidential campaign, Carson opposed same-sex marriage and backed a constitutional amendment against the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality.
Most notably, Carson landed in hot water when, as a neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins University, he compared LGBT advocates to pedophiles during an interview on Fox News. Outcry over the remarks led him to apologize “if anybody was offended” and cancel plans to give the commencement address for the medical school.
Carson’s views on LGBT rights raise questions about how he’d handle his role as HUD secretary. Among other things, he’d have authority to rescind a rule prohibiting government-funded housing from discriminating against LGBT people, or institute a religious exemption for that rule that could substantially limit its reach. Carson could undo the extension of that rule prohibiting homeless shelters from turning away transgender people based on their gender identity.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said via Twitter Carson’s suggestion that LGBT rights are “extra rights” is beyond alarming.
— Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) January 12, 2017