Retired neurosurgeon and possible 2016 presidential candidate Ben Carson isn’t an anti-gay extremist after all, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Under intense scrutiny after it was revealed that the civil rights organization had lumped Carson in with the likes of KKK members and other zealots on its “extremist watch list,” the SPLC announced on Wednesday that it was scrubbing Carson’s name.
The group also issued Carson an apology.
The SPLC placed Carson on the list in October, but the designation was not widely noticed until last week when it was flagged by the blog Legal Insurrection.
Carson’s sin, according to the SPLC, were statements he’s made in public venues such as “Marriage is between a man and a woman; It’s a well-established pillar of society.”
He has also expressed concern that legalizing gay marriage will lead down a “slippery slope” in which polygamy will be allowed.
While some of Carson’s comments have attracted attention — including his comparison between the current U.S. regime to Nazi Germany — few onlookers have considered him an extremist.
In its statement announcing the reversal, the SPLC said that Carson’s positions did not meet the criteria necessary for its extremist designation.
“In October 2014, we posted an “Extremist File” of Dr. Ben Carson. This week, as we’ve come under intense criticism for doing so, we’ve reviewed our profile and have concluded that it did not meet our standards, so we have taken it down and apologize to Dr. Carson for having posted it,” SPLC’s statement reads. (RELATED: Southern Poverty Law Center Places Ben Carson On Its ‘Extremist Watch List’)
Though the group lauded Carson for his “contributions to medicine and philanthropic work” in its statement, the SPLC still included a list of comments Carson has made which it still maintains are extreme.
“We’ve also come to the conclusion that the question of whether a better-researched profile of Dr. Carson should or should not be included in our “Extremist Files” is taking attention from the fact that Dr. Carson has, in fact, made a number of statements that express views that we believe most people would conclude are extreme,” SPLC’s statement reads.
[h/t Legal Insurrection]