Ben Carson steps down as Johns Hopkins commencement speaker after controversial comments

Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who faced criticism for controversial comments about same-sex marriage, stepped down Wednesday as the commencement speaker for the university.

Carson sent medical school Dean Paul Rothman a letter, obtained by, saying that he didn’t want to “distract from the celebratory nature of the day."

"Commencement is about the students and their successes, and it is not about me," Carson wrote. "I want to make certain that remains so."

In the past few weeks, Carson has backtracked on comments he made about gay marriage. In an interview on Fox News, he had said "no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality ... they don't get to change the definition" of marriage.

Carson, who has become a rising conservative star after publicly questioning Obama's health care overhaul earlier this year, later apologized.

On Friday, Rothman released a statement calling Carson’s comments “offensive” and said the university recognizes “that tension now exists in our community because hurtful, offensive language was used by our colleague, Dr. Ben Carson, when conveying a personal opinion. Dr. Carson’s comments are inconsistent with the culture of our institution.”

Carson also stepped down as the speaker for the Johns Hopkins University School of Education diploma ceremony.

“Given all the national media surrounding my statements as to my belief in traditional marriage, I believe it would be in the best interest of the students for me to voluntarily withdraw as your commencement speaker this year,” Carson wrote.

University spokeswoman Kim Hoppe told no decision had been made yet on who will replace Carson.

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