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Traditional marriage supporter withdraws as graduation speaker

April 11, 2013 at 12:52 PM

BALTIMORE, April 11 (UPI) -- A controversial opponent of same-sex marriage withdrew as the graduation speaker at Johns Hopkins University after students at the Baltimore school objected.

Citing national media attention to his belief in traditional marriage, Dr. Ben Carson voluntarily withdrew as commencement speaker, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

"My presence is likely to distract from the true celebratory nature of the day," Carson said in an email to Paul Rothman, dean of the Johns Hopkins medical school. "Commencement is about the students, and it is not about me."

In a TV interview two weeks ago in which he supported traditional marriage as a "fundamental pillar of society," Carson said gays, pedophiles or people who practice bestiality "don't get to change the definition" of marriage.

He later apologized for the remarks, but students petitioned to have him removed as commencement speaker.

In his email, Carson said he was a victim of political correctness and expressed hope "the emphasis on political correctness will decrease and we will start emphasizing rational discussion of differences so we can actually resolve problems and chart a course that is inclusive of everyone."

Carson announced last month he is retiring as head of the Johns Hopkins Department of Pediatric Neurosurgery.

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