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GOP Rising Star Dr. Ben Carson on the Defensive Over Remarks About Gay Marriage (VIDEO)

Dr. Ben Carson, the Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon who has become a rising star in conservative circles, came under fire for remarks earlier this week that seemed to equate the gay community with pedophilia and other illegal activity. He since has had to walk back his remarks, making the rounds on cable television this week offering somewhat of a veiled apology.

“If anybody was offended, I apologize to you,” Carson told MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell this Friday. “But what I was basically saying is that there is no group. I wasn’t equating those things — I don’t think they’re equal.”

Lauded by conservatives as a potential presidential candidate, Carson had been criticized for a Fox News interview with host Sean Hannity where he said that he believes marriage is “a well-established, fundamental pillar of society and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality. It doesn’t matter what they are. They don’t get to change the definition.”

Playing down his original comments, Carson said that it’s his “duty” as a Christian to love people regardless of sexual orientation.

“If you ask me for an apple and I give you an orange you would say, well that’s not an orange,” Carson said. “And then I say, that’s a banana, that’s not an apple either. And there’s a peach, that’s not an apple, either. But it doesn’t mean that I’m equating the banana and the orange and the peach. And in the same way I’m not equating those things.”

In a report from Talking Points Memo, graduating students of Johns Hopkins school of medicine created a petition calling for the University to “select an alternative speaker who better reflects the values of the student body and the University” for the school’s upcoming commencement ceremony.

“Are you prepared to withdraw as commencement speaker?” Mitchell asked.

“Absolutely,” Carson replied. “I would say that, you know, this is their day and the last thing I would want to do is rain on their parade.”

Watch the Andrea Mitchell Reports segment in the video below.

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