Johns Hopkins University will keep neurosurgeon Ben Carson as its commencement speaker despite his offer to withdraw after his controversial comments about same-sex marriage, the Washington Blade reports.
Carson sparked outrage when he appeared on Fox News March 26 and compared the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to bestiality and pedophilia.
A petition signed by a majority of the School of Medicine graduating class said Carson was an "inappropriate choice" for commencement speaker. Carson, director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins who has become a conservative darling since a speech earlier this year criticizing President Barack Obama and gay marriage, said on MSNBC he was ready to withdraw as speaker, but the school said he was still scheduled.
The Blade, citing an anonymous source, said the school would make an announcement about Carson later this week. Johns Hopkins would neither confirm nor deny the report.
"We are engaged in active discussions with members of our community, including faculty members and students, to determine the best way forward with regard to our medical school graduation," Johns Hopkins director of media relations Kim Hoppe told HuffPost in an email.
Carson sent an apology to the Hopkins community on Friday, New York magazine reports.
"As you know, I have been in the national news quite a bit recently and my 36-year association with Johns Hopkins has unfortunately dragged our institution into the spotlight as well," Carson wrote. "I am sorry for any embarrassment this has caused."
Around the same time, Paul Rothman, dean of the Hopkins medical faculty, sent a note to school constituents.
"While his recent comments are inconsistent with our core values, Dr. Carson has the right to participate in public debates and media interviews and express his personal opinions on political, social and religious issues," Rothman said. "We strongly value freedom of expression and affirm Dr. Carson’s right, as a private citizen, to state his personal views."
Carson has been touted as a rising conservative star. He gained national attention following his appearances at the National Prayer Breakfast and the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he harshly criticized Obama.