Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson had a terse exchange during a Staten Island town hall Monday night with an attendee who cursed at the retired neurosurgeon over his position on LGBT issues.
"I have a quick question. Do you think I chose to be gay?" the attendee told Carson as he posed for pictures in a small group.
"Did you choose to be gay?" Carson responded, somewhat taken aback back. "That's a long conversation. That’s a long conversation that's going to lead to no answer.”
"I think you’re full of s--t," the questioner responded, smiling.
"Okay,” said Carson, also smiling, as he continued to pose for pictures. The exchange was captured in a video shared by ABC News on social media early Tuesday morning.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 5, 2016
Carson, who is deeply religious, does not regularly make direct reference to same-sex rights on the campaign trail. But he has repeatedly indicated his displeasure with the Supreme Court decision that last year granted same-sex couples the right to marry.
Carson stirred a large backlash last March when —after being asked if he saw comparisons between the Civil Rights Movement and the marriage equality movement — he insisted in an interview with CNN that sexual orientation is a choice and pointed to prison as evidence. He has also apologized in the past for suggesting that gay marriage could lead to polygamy.
“It's not the same situation because people have no control over their race, for instance," Carson told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. "Because 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?"
The retired surgeon apologized in a Facebook post the following day, saying that "my choice of language does not reflect fully my heart on gay issues."
"I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation," he wrote. "… Some of our brightest minds have looked at this debate, and up until this point there have been no definitive studies that people are born into a specific sexuality."