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Speaker at Johns Hopkins U. Withdraws After Furor Over Gay-Marriage Remarks

Benjamin S. Carson Sr. stepped down on Wednesday as the commencement speaker at the Johns Hopkins University’s medical school after igniting a controversy by making negative comments about gay marriage, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Dr. Carson, a prominent neurosurgeon and the school’s director of pediatric neurosurgery, drew fire last month for comments he made during an appearance on Fox News, in which he equated advocates of gay marriage with those who promote bestiality and pedophilia. Students drafted a petition to remove Dr. Carson as commencement speaker, and he later apologized for his comments, though he said he stands by his views. He had said that he would not take part in the ceremony if students opposed his participation.

“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,” Dr. Carson wrote in a letter to the medical school’s dean that was cited by the newspaper. He also stepped down as the speaker for a separate diploma ceremony for the university’s School of Education. His replacements for those ceremonies have not yet been named.

A university spokesman told the newspaper that Dr. Carson had chosen to withdraw on his own, and had not been asked to step down.

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