Over the past week, Ben Carson, a possible 2016 Republican presidential hopeful, has taken heat for his comments that being gay is a choice. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, posited that some straight men go to prison and leave gay.
Carson's weird stew of words, equivocations, and implicit reference to prison rape did not go over very well. And there are a lot of reasons for people to be upset with Carson's comments (for example, the high suicide rate among LGBT youth). But it was Dan Savage, a sex-advice columnist who also started the It Gets Better campaign, who had one of the most searing responses.
Savage penned a column that, among other things, invited Carson to choose to be gay and have sex with him. If you got past the shock value portion of the column, Savage also makes eloquent points about why Carson's comments are really harmful — that painting gay as a choice is a cornerstone of the argument that LGBT people don't deserve equal protection.
Savage explained these thoughts to Brian Stelter on CNN Sunday. He said:
What religious conservatives and Republicans are really saying when they say that being gay is a choice is that gay or lesbian — queer people — shouldn't be covered by civil rights laws, we shouldn't be protected under the 14th Amendment, that the Bill of Rights doesn't apply to us because being gay is not an immutable characteristic, it's a choice that we've made
Savage continued, stating that religion and faith are choices that are protected and that "religious liberty" has been a phrase that's grown in popularity among conservatives. This, in Savage's eyes, is hypocrisy:
So if religious conservatives are arguing that if something is a choice, like being gay — which they would like to argue is a choice and it is not, therefore it doesn't deserve civil rights protections — then they need to be consistent and argue and advocate for stripping away civil rights protection for people of faith.
Of course, no one is arguing that. That's the point.