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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  • Steve

    No, you’re just plain fucking insane. Period.

  • gratuitous

    Dear Dr. Carson: You say you want to know what a Bible-believing Christian should do in response to marriage equality. I know that nothing I have to say is going to penetrate your cranium, but perhaps I can direct you to John 15:12? You’re welcome.

    Yours in Christ,
    your friendly neighborhood
    gratuitous

  • benb

    This guy’s thinking is so nonlinear I gotta wonder if former patients and their families aren’t thinking about sueing him for malpractice.

  • carson is clearly engaging in classic troll behavior. creatards have had all their “questions” answered for them over and over again. they just stick their fingers in their ears and pretend their arguments don’t stink like a dead battered horse carcass. it’s just another case of faith peddlers acting in bad faith. look up any debate with ray comfort, ken ham, william lane craig or any other “major” theist — they raise the same “questions” over and over again as if no one’s ever told them the answers. they don’t debate — they preach, and to the already converted.

  • It’s much worse than that. Keep in mind that marriage wasn’t even a sacrament in the Christian church until the late 12th century. Go back to ancient Greece and Rome and it was celebrated with friends and family — there might be a priest around somewhere, maybe. (It was, as much as anything, an alliance between families, which continued to be a factor until modern times.*) In ancient Irish law, it was purely and simply a contract detailing who had rights to which property (remember, Irish women owned property in their own right before the Christians showed up) and who was responsible for any children. In most of Europe up until the early 19th century, only the upper classes (nobility and rich merchants) bothered with “legal” marriage because they were the only ones with any property — hence, inheritance became a factor, something which was of great concern to the ancient Hebrews. The peasants just said “We’re married,” and their friends said “Congratulations! Pa-a-artee!!” and built them a house.

    * one thing that’s completely ignored in this bogus “definition” of marriage being bruited about by Anti-Gay, Inc., is that marriage establishes kinship between two families — when you get married, you not only get a spouse, you get in-laws. This is something that was very important in earlier times and in other cultures.

  • Frog 11

    It’s a pretty amazing trick, eh? :) Nicely phrased response.

  • Yep. And hypocrites, too. “We have to respect people’s religious beliefs!” (brief imperceptible pause) “Except for Muslims. And pagans. And atheists. And…oh heck, anybody who isn’t a conservative fundamentalist Christian!”

  • No different whatsoever. The ‘slippery slope’ rhetorical fallacy is always a convenient way to attach extreme, unlikely, and unsubstantiated outcomes to a proposal that can’t be refuted on its own weaknesses.

    To wit: “Letting people marry animals is bad, therefore same-sex marriage rights must be connected to the greatly increased likelihood of this result.” Same with the child marriage and polygamy angle. They presume (and rightly so) that a very large majority would have a problem with these, therefore marriage equality must be established as a root cause of them happening.

    The assertion is made, of course, without any proof. It’s just another technique to attempt to connect two unlike things in people’s malleable minds.

  • Butch1

    Considering most of them are religious “one-trick” ponies.

  • Frog 11

    So how is not allowing women the legal ability to vote out of fear of the repercussions in spite of their status as equal citizens any different than wanting to deny gay people the ability to become legally married out of fear of the repercussions?

  • Actually, many of those arguments were raised in the context of women being presumed to be unfit to rationally cast a vote. The most common comparison was to equate women with children, although occasionally ‘mentally unstable’ was brought in when they wanted to imply that women were too emotional to make a rational electoral choice. Another I saw cited was that giving women suffrage would basically give two votes to any married man because he would of course dictate to his wife how she could cast her ballot.

  • Perhaps you would be better suited to becoming a minister rather than a president

    That admonition would likely apply to nearly all of the GOP candidates.

  • Butch1

    This man continues to act like “if” it happens. Would someone clue the “good doctor” in and tell him that “gay marriages” HAVE BEEN HAPPENING all over this country of ours for years now. It’s too late for him to try and stop them; many of us are already in good marriages and he had better get used to it and stop insulting us. If he ever plans to become a president this will not help thinking you can roll back history and the clocks and pretend this has never happened. Your religious views will not trump our Constitution or the ruling of the Supreme Court, so you had better get it into your religious pea brain of yours.

    Perhaps you would be better suited to becoming a minister rather than a president. You are not fit to take that oath where you promise to follow or obey the laws of the Constitution of this country. You would be working and representing “We, the People of this country” and I do not think you would be wanting to represent all of us people, especially us gay people.

  • I think you’re totally correct. The way I’ve seen it, there are three angles on marriage: Religious, social, and legal.

    As a religious practice, gay and lesbian couples had been getting hitched for decades. But usually the only people aware of the partnership would be friends and family members. (This was in the days when it wasn’t safe to be ‘out’ at all.)

    From the 1980s onward, gay and lesbian couples gradually became more known in the social sense. Over time, more folks had acquaintances, friends, or family members they knew were gay.

    By time we got to the early Aughts, the fight became over the legal recognition of something many people already knew existed: Families headed by gay and lesbian couples, and the couples themselves.

    The homophobes want to drag it all back to where the religious (but only theirs) gets to dictate both the social and the legal. And it’s not working.

  • Interestingly enough, one of the European countries — I forget which — which has CUs available to hetero couples as well as gay couples has large numbers of straight couples availing themselves of it, simply because it’s not marriage, which is a much more serious business.

    And in my role as amateur anthropologist, the definition of marriage that seems to me to actually fit the reality is one I ran across from Joseph Campbell: Marriage is the recognition by the community of the establishment of a new household. There are a lot of implications in that one — “community recognition” (read: state-issued license, for those times when your “community” numbers several million) which also marks a new status for the couple — a life stage, because all life stage events derive from the community (hence the cultural and social weight of the word marriage)* — “household” (which includes any children, or none) — without the limitations in the sectarian religious “definition” pushed by the right. (Which as far as I’m concerned reduces human beings to the level of breeding stock.)

    * And it occurs to me that it’s the community recognition that sticks in the craws of the god-botherers, since they would prefer that we remain invisible.

  • 2karmanot

    ‘Bonker’s Ben’ is at it again…..NEXT!

  • 2karmanot

    OT: love the Frog icon!

  • Believe me, I know. I lived in California from the mid 1990s up through the middle Aughts. DP was all we could get, and it was clear from the outset it was inferior in nearly every important way vs. marriage.

    Technically, DPs were available to hetero couples, and some few used them, but it was always specifically because the couple involved didn’t want to be REALLY married. It was probably the same way with civil unions: The only heterosexual couples who would go that route if both it and marriage were available were those who specifically wanted the “not equal to marriage” features, such as not losing eligibility for pension, housing or other benefits.

    Hence why I double-dare the homophobes: “Fine, if what you’re suggesting truly is a drop-in 100% equal-to replacement for government registration of civil marriages, you sell it to the much, much larger majority who would have to accept it: Hetero couples.”

    I feel confident they’d never take on the dare.

  • Frog 11

    You need look no further than the suffrage movement. I mean, once we gave women the right to vote, what was there to stop children, dogs, or toasters from voting! I mean, there *couldn’t possibly* be any other legal or logistic considerations, right…?

  • Just one comment about the Big Lie About Marriage that Carson and the rest of the right have managed to foist on us: no one has changed the definition of marriage. The courts have simply told the theocrats that their religious definition of marriage (which isn’t even really a definition, but a limitation) cannot be written into the civil law.

  • emjayay
  • Actually, a lot of it is about the word: the word “marriage” carries a very potent cultural and social weight, as the Massachusetts supreme court noted in its opinion in Goodyear. No other term that might describe that kind of relationship comes anywhere near that. We’ve already seen that in those instances where “civil unions” or “domestic partnerships” were offered in lieu of marriage.

  • Given that he’s now running second in the Republican presidential dog race, we unfortunately have to be aware of just what nonsense he’s spouting.

  • goulo

    Yes, plenty of Bible heroes had multiple wives… But surely we don’t expect a loud self-proclaimed Christian politician to have actually READ the bible. :)

  • Boomer1949

    I think Ben Carson sees himself as morally and intellectually superior to most others. I see a radical Christian theocrat too radical for the Tea or Republican parties. THAT is scary.

  • mark_in_toronto

    “Ben Carson clearly has no gay friends.”
    Yeah . . . tell us something we don’t know.

    That’s right . . . isn’t that the function of a Liberal Press?
    Please don’t waste any more bandwidth or webpage space on this fodder.
    I mean REALLY. WTF (especially here) cares what this a-hole thinks?

  • Dan Savage announced a new rule over a year ago: if you claim to have gay friends, you have to produce them. He called bullshit and so far no one has produced any. In most cases they don’t exist. (I’ll admit that there are a good number of quislings so some of them probably do have at least one gay acquaintance.) Carson? I really doubt it.

  • Ben Carson is just plain fucking insane. Period.

  • U.S. federal and state governments already HAVE succeeded in making the legal cases that marriage requires the ability to make informed consent.

    This is why it is not possible to marry someone in a coma. Or to marry an inanimate object, an animal, or a child below the age of legal consent. Those of very limited mental capacity often have to be judged at least minimally competent (and able to give informed consent) in order to be allowed to marry. And of course forced marriages are patently illegal in this country.

  • BigHobbit

    The simple answer to the question of “what defense” to the next group that comes along is simple:
    Present a constitutionally valid reason to deny the right of marriage, i.e., satisfy the 14th amendment due process clause by providing a rational reason linked to a legitimate govt concern.
    Just because the govt was unable to provide a rational reason linked to a legitimate govt concern in the case of same sex marriage, doesn’t mean that all laws regulating marriage are suddenly void. I merely demonstrates what the constitutional test requires. In the case of minors, animals and inanimate objects, the govt could probably succeed with an argument that the marriage contract requires the ability to legally consent. THAT would be a rational reason that is linked to a legitimate govt concern. In the case of inter-racial marriage or inter-faith marriage, a ban might be rational from a religious, or a racist point of view, but it would not be a legitimate govt concern. In other cases, if the govt LACKS a rational reason, then it has no business banning those other cases anyways. The govt MUST satisfy the constitution.

  • Quilla

    Ha! “Mental Ben”!!

  • Quilla

    I’ve just got to go with “high functioning wing-nut” because he has that brain surgeon resume and yet he doesn’t seem to have a rational thought outside the operating room.

    I’d like to see this sorry excuse of a human being be given no time at all in the coming year.

  • Indeed. One would think, for example, that the Lord of the Rings on average is a much more morally consistent framework than those culturally stunted iron- and bronze-age stories.

    I mean, consider how there’s no such thing as chattel ownership of women in the LotR. Slavery is obviously wrong. War is to be avoided, as are campaigns of aggressive conquest. The only “god” ordering his followers to slaughter everyone is unambiguously evil. And several times when a people’s leaders express openly racist views — whether it’s the elves, dwarves, or the men of Gondor — they suffer for it.

    Meanwhile, in the Bible? Objectively pro-slavery and anti-woman. Definitely supportive of racism. The supreme deity regularly orders his people to go to war and to commit genocide — when he doesn’t just go ahead and slaughter tens of thousands on his own.

  • Carson makes a s much sense as saying heterosexual marriage leads to incest.

  • Dare I say…AMEN.

  • Wait…isn’t “plural marriage” already in Carson’s Big Book o’ Goat Herder Fables?

  • Mental Ben asks the question because it gives the illusion of having an open mind on gay rights, when the reality is he only hears the homophobic and bigoted answers.

    I’ll give an honest reply here: I’d be okay with the government applying a different name to the civil marriage licensing and registration that they do. Civil union, partnership contract, whatever — but only if straight couples agree to it first, for THEIR marriages.

    I guarantee the silence will be deafening, because it’s not about the word, it’s about preserving heterosexual privilege and making gay people into 2nd class citizens. We shouldn’t forget either that the Federal Marriage Amendment they’re proposing doesn’t just ban same-sex marriage. It also bans any legal arrangement that conveys any of the rights or benefits associated with civil marriage, including civil unions, domestic partnerships, and by some estimates even the legal paperwork many gay and lesbian couples used for decades in lieu of being allowed to marry under civil law.

  • LasloPratt

    Honestly, if we’re going to base our public policy on fairy tales, we need to tap a much better class of fairy tale.

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