Dr. Ben Carson entered a media firestorm yesterday when he told CNN the experience of prisoners showed that sexual orientation was a choice. (There is actually one small study that suggests sexual orientation does change in prison, by the way). I don’t know why a presidential candidate would wade into this territory, instead of simply agreeing that we all have a choice in how we live out our sexual, romantic, and familial lives—because acts are choices and therefore subject to moral reflection, about which people will disagree.
Apparently the pounding from CNN led Dr. Carson not only to apologize but say he supports the right of states to choose gay marriage:
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.
Only Dr. Carson knows why he chose to apologize. But this is a significant concession on his part substantively on marriage. But it is also true the Christian Right has not yet settled on a realistic legislative objective it wants candidates to support. Nor has it invested in building substantive political organizations to fight for these legislative objectives on marriage.
We are witnessing the results of years of failed models of orthodox Christians engaging in politics, as well as not a single Christian billionaire who is investing, as the Koch brothers have done, in building an intellectual/cultural powerhouse like the Cato Institute.
Artists, scholars, movie stars, storytellers, and genuine political institutions with legislative (not moral) objectives are needed.
This means a lot of work moving forward amid what for many will be numerous discouraging signs of collapse.
Maggie Gallagher is the editor of ThePulse2016.com.