Dr. Ben Carson Argues Being Gay Is 'Absolutely' a Choice

Image: Conservatives Gather For Annual CPAC Convention
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - FEBRUARY 26: Ben Carson, former neurosurgeon, addresses the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) February 26, 2015 in National Harbor, Maryland. Carson is the author of "One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save Americas Future" and "America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great". Conservative activists attended the annual political conference to discuss their agenda. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)Alex Wong / Getty Images

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Dr. Ben Carson said being gay is “absolutely” a choice, just hours after launching an exploratory committee for 2016. The renowned neurosurgeon-turned-conservative-celebrity said prisons prove this theory, in an interview with CNN that aired on Wednesday morning. “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,” he said.

Carson’s hard-right politics and bold stances like this have made him a darling of the far right. His stance on gay marriage isn’t new (previously he’s aligned homosexuality with bestiality, pedophilia and murder) but it highlights why his presidential ambitions put the GOP in such a pickle: With a majority of Americans supporting gay marriage, fielding a Republican candidate who is so blatantly hostile to homosexuality is a great way to send swing voters packing.

“Candidates who would like to see the inside of the West Wing,” GOP strategist Juleana Glover told msnbc previously, “are gonna find a way to be more inclusive on the issue of marriage.”

Carson’s views on homosexuality have gotten him in trouble in the past: in 2013, he was forced to cancel a commencement speech at Johns Hopkins–the school where he worked as a pediatric neurosurgeon–and apologize for remarks about gay people.

Carson has formally established a presidential exploratory committee, announcing the step towards a possible run for the GOP nomination with a new web site and video.

This story originally appeared on msnbc.com

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