Why Ben Carson was wrong–and why that’s a problem

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Ben-Carson

Ben Carson thinks being gay is “absolutely” choice because people “go into prison straight and, when they come out, they’re gay.” That’s a problem for Republicans in 2016.

Let me just say this to start: whether or not you think being gay is a choice, prisoners are probably the worst argument possible.

Prisoners don’t generally become gay. Prison myths aside. Some of them (though not a substantial number of them) do engage in gay acts in prison because, let’s face it, there’s not a ton of selection in there. Others fall victim to sexual assault or rape behind bars. But just like a gay man who experiments with sex with a woman in adolescence, one act doesn’t define sexuality–especially if it occurs in a place like prison.

Because very rarely do otherwise straight prisoners embrace a new gay lifestyle once they’re released back to the world of available women. That just doesn’t happen.

Dr. Carson rightfully deserves a tremendous amount of respect as a figure in the conservative movement–but as a renowned medical doctor and neurosurgeon, he should also know better than to speculate on science that, quite honestly, we don’t understand yet. He should also realize that comments like these play directly into the Left’s hands.

Remarks like these represent a tremendous political problem for Republicans 2016: not just because the Left will take them out of context and use them to attack, but because the number of Americans who hold views like Carson’s is getting increasingly small.

63% of all Americans now back gay marriage. That’s a massive 14-point leap from just 49% in 2010, so that number will undoubtedly grow by November 2016.

With numbers that high, it’s clear that gay marriage is no longer just backed by liberals.

Even among Republicans, gay marriage support is at 40%, with nearly a quarter “strongly” supporting. 61% of Republicans under 30, and 56% of Republicans under 45, are also in favor–the next generation of leaders and voters. 64% of millennial evangelicals support it, too.

And even in a conservative hotbed like the South, voters are evenly split, 46%-46%–showing just how much support there is, nationwide.

Because they have no economic record to run on, Democrats are going to use the same playbook they used in 2012: make Republicans look out-of-touch. With 64% of swing vote moderates supporting gay marriage–and a measly 27% opposed–Republicans, quite honestly, need to stop publicly talking like Ben Carson, no matter how they might feel privately.

Simply put, this isn’t a winning issue in 2016. If Ben Carson wants to be seen as a legitimate presidential primary candidate–and be a legitimate contender next November–he needs to do a stronger job of appealing past his conservative base, and stop playing into the Left’s hands with comments like these.

Morgan Mayhew
Morgan is a freelance writer for a variety of publications covering popular culture, societal behavior and the political influences of each.