Ben Carson clearly has no gay friends

As one might imagine, Ben Carson has some thoughts and feelings about same-sex marriage. As one could also image, these thoughts and feelings have clearly never been informed by anyone who would ever enter into a same-sex marriage.

Speaking to radio host Eric Metaxes last Friday, Carson suggested that same-sex marriage would make the word of God “garbage,” and would inevitably lead to plural marriage, saying, quoted by Buzzfeed:

The other thing you have to recognize and this is a very important issue…If you change the definition of marriage for one group what defense do you have for the next group that comes along and wants it changed. Can you say, “no we’re just changing it this one time and it will this way for forever.’” Well, how is that fair? I mean, it doesn’t make any sense.

(For a great rundown of the arguments against polygamy, and why they’re all bad, go here.)

These are things we would expect a radically conservative candidate like Carson to say. He’s got some seriously wacky views about pretty much everything. Slightly more troubling, however, was Carson’s assertion that he’s earnestly tried to reconcile these views with people who disagree with him and come up empty. As he asked, Metaxes, “I would like them to answer just one question for me: What position can a person like me take…who believes in the traditional, biblical definition of marriage, that is acceptable to them?”

Carson said that he’s never gotten a satisfactory answer to this question, which is odd because he’s asked it before. From a Buzzfeed an interview published in April:

“What I would ask — I think, maybe BuzzFeed can get an answer to this question: What position can a person who believes in traditional marriage, between one man and one woman, have, who has absolutely no animosity or opposition to gay people – what position can they take that would be satisfactory to the gay community?” he asked. “Because if they can give me an answer to that, I’m quite willing to seriously consider it. But so far I haven’t been able to find anybody who can give me an answer — it’s sort of like, ‘Nope! It has to be my way or the highway.’”

And here he is in June, asking the exact same question to CNN’s Brianna Keilar:

And to Fox’s Bret Baier:

He must not have been listening all that hard for responses, because the answer to his question is quite simple: Ben Carson is more than welcome to prefer whichever definition of marriage he wants; he just doesn’t get to have that definition codified in public policy because he thinks the Bible says so. He is allowed to disagree with the law of the land; he just isn’t allowed to legislate that disagreement if the Constitution isn’t on his side.

If that answer isn’t satisfactory, then what Carson’s really asking is what version of repealing marriage equality — i.e. what version of second-class citizenship — is acceptable for LGBT people. This seems more likely, as Carson was one of just four candidates to sign the National Organization for Marriage’s pledge to support a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. This being the case, his supposed outstretched hand isn’t doing much more than scratching the chalkboard. You don’t get to claim to be all about compromise if you’ve already committed to re-imposing religious privilege on secular contracts between consenting adults. When you do that, you’re the one saying “Nope! It has to be my way or the highway.”

Taking the surface appeal to compromise in isolation, however, I find it nearly impossible to believe that the retired neurosurgeon and young Earth creationist has ever had a serious conversation with anyone who disagrees with him on this issue. If he did, he would have gotten his answer already. This is the same guy who wasn’t sure if he’d attend a gay wedding even if it were his son’s wedding; I seriously doubt he’s in regular dialogue with anyone in the LGBT community.

He’s more than welcome to prove me wrong.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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