Ben Carson Apologizes for Saying Being Gay is a Choice (Full Statement)

On his Facebook page, probable GOP presidential contender Ben Carson apologized for his comments that being gay is a choice.

In a recent interview on CNN, I realized that my choice of language does not reflect fully my heart on gay issues.

I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation. I regret that my words to express that concept were hurtful and divisive. For that I apologize unreservedly to all that were offended.

I’m a doctor trained in multiple fields of medicine, who was blessed to work at perhaps the finest institution of medical knowledge in the world. Some of our brightest minds have looked at this debate, and up until this point there have been no definitive studies that people are born into a specific sexuality. We do know, however, that we are always born male and female. And I know that we are all made in God’s image, which means we are all deserving of respect and dignity.

I support human rights and Constitutional protections for gay people, and I have done so for many years. I support civil unions for gay couples, and I have done so for many years. I support the right of individual states to sanction gay marriage, and I support the right of individual states to deny gay marriage in their respective jurisdictions.
I also think that marriage is a religious institution. Religious marriage is an oath before God and congregation. Religious marriage must only be governed by the church. Judges and government must not be allowed to restrict religious beliefs.
I am not a politician and I answered a question without really thinking about it thoroughly. No excuses. I deeply regret my statement and I promise you, on this journey, I may err again, but unlike politicians when I make an error I will take full responsibility and never hide or parse words. As a human being my obligation is to learn from my mistakes and to treat all people with respect and dignity.

He pretended to know that being gay was “absolutely” a choice earlier today. Now he doesn’t pretend to know how it happens. What a difference less than a day makes.
Just a bit ago, Alan Chambers contested Carson’s remarks on this blog.
Bryan Fischer’s wish didn’t last a day:

I’d say he retreated more than an inch.
Carson had a hard time choosing (see what I did there) what message to go with. First, he confidently said being gay was a choice. Then he told Sean Hannity in the afternoon that the “liberal media” wasn’t treating him fairly. Carson even said he wasn’t going to talk about gay issues anymore. At that point, with Hannity, there was no apology. Then later, as I noted in this post, he was talking about gay issues again with his apology.

Ben Carson: Being Gay is Choice Because Some People Do Gay Things After Prison

Dr. Carson, this isn’t brain surgery. Being attracted to the same or opposite sex isn’t chosen like you chose to speak outside of your area of expertise today.
On CNN, Carson told Chris Cuomo that being gay is choice and he knows this because of prison. Carson said:

Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question.

Some people do make a shift in prison but probably not “a lot.” One study I consulted found that about 17% of prisoners said they had shifted orientation from before prison to the time of the survey. Those prisoners were still incarcerated. Most of the switchers said they became bisexual. They should be surveyed when they leave prison; most will likely revert to pre-prison identifications.
More disturbing is Carson’s reliance on a clearly exceptional population. He should know better than to draw conclusions about all gays because of the exceptions in prison. He surely did not choose surgery techniques or medicines that way.

Texas does not use third grade reading levels to project future prison population

On his October 24 Wallbuilders Live program, David Barton made a claim (at about 24:00 into the program) that that Texas prison officials use third grade reading levels as the best indicator of the need for prison beds in the future. Barton told co-host Rick Green that the government officials in Texas came to some church people and asked them to mentor young kids in reading. The objective was to get kids reading on grade level by the third grade. Why is this important? Barton said that the Texas Department of Corrections asks school officials every year how many third grade kids are not reading at grade level. According to Barton’s source:

…based on the numbers we give them, that’s how many beds they get ready for the next 15 years for the future. Because kids that are not reading at grade level in the third grade, they’re the kids that end up in prison. That’s the best indicator they have found is where these kids are in third grade.

As Right Wing Watch reported, this claim has been debunked in other states. However, Texas is not mentioned in the article cited there. To check out how Barton’s home state projects the future prison population, I called the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. An official there directed me to the Texas Legislative Budget Board. On the LBB website, I clicked the Public Safety and Criminal Justice link to find numerous reports, one of which included yearly prison population projections (see projections from 2012-2017).

The title of the report is “Adult and Juvenile Correctional Population Projections Fiscal Years 2012—2017.” In it, the methods for projecting the future are spelled out on pages 12-28. You won’t find anything in these pages about reading levels at the third grade or at anytime. Instead, the reports says:

The adult incarceration population projection for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is based on a discrete-event simulation modeling approach resulting from the movement of individual offenders into, through, and out of TDCJ. Discrete-event simulation focuses on the modeling of a system as it evolves over time as a dynamic process. The model simulates offender movement based on offense type, sentence length, and time credited to current sentence.

The LBB considers convictions, revocations of the community placements (community placement does not always work), and a host of factors relating to parole practices. The crime rate and the unemployment rate in Texas are considered “if major shifts occur from the latest trends.” I looked at the most recent and the oldest reports and I saw nothing about reading levels.

This claim was made in the context of a program criticizing teachers’ unions and the perceived state of public education in Louisiana. The message is that parents need to have school choice to provide competition to motivate bad schools to be better. To ramp up the urgency, Barton comes along with this unsupported claim about the long term consequences of low reading levels.

Of course reading levels are important. However, one can be for better education and even favor some school choice programs without having to spread fictions. Whether it be current events or historical events, you just have to check everything out.