Ben Carson pushed back Thursday against being labeled anti-gay and anti-affirmative action at a confirmation hearing on his nomination to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development, saying he believed in equal rights not “extra rights.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown, the top Democrat on the committee, pressed Mr. Caron on whether he would protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in public housing.
“Of course, I would enforce all the laws of the land. Of course, I think all Americans should be protected by the law,” Mr. Carson said. “What I have said before is I don’t think anyone should get ‘extra rights.’”
That has been a common refrain from the conservative Christian which has drawn fire in the past from LGBT activists.
Mr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and former GOP presidential candidate, also was called on by Mr. Brown to defend his views on affirmative action in housing programs.
Mr. Brown asked about an op-ed he penned in The Washington Times in 2015 that criticized an Obama administration rule that required HUD to look for and correct patterns of racial bias in housing.
In the op/ed, Mr. Carson compared the rule to desegregation busing of school students in the 1970s and 1980s, which he said cause as many problems as it fixed.
“These government-engineered attempts to legislate racial equality create consequences that often make matters worse,” Mr. Carson wrote. “There are reasonable ways to use housing policy to enhance the opportunities available to lower-income citizens, but based on the history of failed socialist experiments in this country, entrusting the government to get it right can prove downright dangerous.”
At the hearing, Mr. Carson said his comments had been distorted and were not anti-affirmative action.
“That act says that we want people who are receiving HUD grants to look around and see if they find anything that looks like discrimination and then we want them to come up with a solution,” Mr. Carson said. “They’re saying go and look for a problem and give us a solution.
“We have people sitting around desks in Washington, D.C., deciding on how things should be done,” he said. “I don’t have any problem with affirmative action or integration, I have no problem with that at all. But I do have a problem with people on high dictating it when they have no idea what’s going on in an area.”
The biggest issue in his confirmation is his complete lack of government experience, but committee members appeared satisfied with the abilities of the world-famous pediatric brain surgeon from Johns Hopkins Hospital.