Though Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debate focused mostly on the economy, one question did bring up social issues. CNBC anchors asked Ben Carson about serving on the board of a company as LGBT-friendly as Costco given his anti-LGBT views, and he used it as an opportunity to claim he’s not at all homophobic.
“Obviously you don’t understand my views on homosexuality,” he claimed. “I believe our Constitution protects everybody regardless of their sexual orientation or any other aspect. I also believe marriage is between one man and one woman. There is no reason you can’t be perfectly fair to the gay community.”
Rather than address the fact that opposing same-sex marriage is basically the opposite of believing the Constitution protects same-sex couples, Carson went on the defensive. “They shouldn’t automatically assume that because you believe that marriage is between one man and one woman that you are a homophobe,” he implored. “This is one of the myths that the left perpetrates on our society and this is how they frighten people and get people to shut up. That’s what the P.C. culture is all about and it’s destroying this nation.”
But Carson has made his views on homosexuality very evident, despite promising he wouldn’t even talk about the issue anymore. Here are a few of the things he has said about gay people:
- In 2013, Carson defended his position on marriage on Fox News, saying, “No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA [the North American Man/Boy Love Association], be they people who believe in beastiality, it doesn’t matter what they are, they don’t get to change the definition.” Carson later apologized for his “poorly chosen words” comparing gay people to pedophiles and those who engage in bestiality.
- In March, he explained that homosexuality is a choice, and his proof was that prison rape turns people gay. “So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question.” Even Glenn Beck called the comment “the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” In his “apology,” Carson admitted he does not “pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation,” still reinforcing the idea that sexuality can be manipulated.
- More recently, Carson has defended Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis for refusing to serve same-sex couples, arguing that Christians can cite their beliefs to refuse to recognize same-sex couples because “this is a Judeo-Christian nation in the sense that a lot of our values and principles are based on our Judeo-Christian faith.”
- For anybody who does recognize same-sex couples’s marriages though, Carson isn’t willing to support them. Back in January, months before the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling, Carson said in an interview that Congress could simply fire any federal judge who disagrees with the majority of lawmakers. In the days after Obergefell, he suggested that Congress could simply pass a “creative” law to circumvent the Constitution’s guarantee of marriage equality.
- Carson has signed the National Organization for Marriage’s presidential pledge, which demands support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, the reversal of any policy that recognizes same-sex couple’s marriages, and the end to any nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people.
Carson’s views on homosexuality — and the justifications for the label of “homophobe” — are clear. His claim to believe that the Constitution protects people regardless of their sexual orientation, however, is rather difficult to understand.