(CNN) – Neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who rose to GOP fame in recent months, apologized Friday for appearing to equate homosexuality with the criminal acts of pedophilia and bestiality.
"I love gay people. I love straight people. So this was really, I think, on my behalf, somewhat insensitive and I certainly apologize if I offended anyone, because I was not in any way comparing gays with people who engage in bestiality or sexual child abuse," Carson said on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."
Carson won conservative acclaim last month when he criticized Democratic policies on taxes and health care while giving the keynote address at the National Prayer Breakfast. President Obama was sitting just feet away as the renowned neurosurgeon openly chided some of Obama's positions. He has since been the center of speculation over a potential entry into politics.
As the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on same-sex marriage cases this week, Carson weighed in on the issue.
"My thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman," he said Tuesday on Fox News "It's a well-established, fundamental pillar of society and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA [pedophilia], be they people who believe in bestiality. It doesn't matter what they are. They don't get to change the definition."
"It's not something that is against gays, it's against anybody who wants to come along and change the fundamental definitions of pillars of society," he continued. "It has significant ramifications."
Carson maintained Friday his opposition to same-sex marriage, but said the rights that come along with being married should be granted to gay and lesbian couples.
"I'm not sure that it's necessary for it to be called marriage for them to have equal rights. Nobody should have more rights than anybody else," Carson said.
Students at Johns Hopkins University medical school are petitioning to replace Carson as their commencement speaker, saying his "expressed values are incongruous with the values of Johns Hopkins and deeply offensive to a large proportion our student body."
He said on CNN Friday he would adhere to what students at the university want.
"If the students want me to give it, I will give it," he said of the commencement address. "If they don't want me to, if it's going to cause problems for them, I will be happy to withdraw."