Dr. Ben Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins University and a conservative celebrity, has denied he linked gay marriage to bestiality and pedophilia.

Carson's original remarks on the subject during a Fox News interview drew a loud outcry from students and faculty.

“My thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said Tuesday on Hannity. “It's a well-established, fundamental pillar of society, and no group, be the gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality – it doesn't matter what they are – they don't get to change the definition,” Carson said, referring to the North American Man Boy/Love Association, a group which is thought to no longer exist.

The comments spurred a petition by students asking to have Carson replaced as graduation speaker.

Carson expanded on his thoughts in comments to the Baltimore Sun.

“I think people have completely taken the wrong meaning out of what I was saying,” Carson said. “First of all, I certainly believe gay people should have all the rights that anybody else has. What I was basically saying is that, as far as marriage is concerned, that has traditionally been between a man and a woman, and nobody should be able to change that.”

“Now perhaps the examples were not the best choice of words, and I certainly apologize if I offended anyone.”

Appearing on CNN's The Situation Room, Carson said he loved gay people.

“As a Christian, we have a duty to love everyone and to love them as themselves. And so 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.” (The video is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)

On Friday, Carson said he was willing not to speak at the medical school's commencement ceremony.

“Absolutely,” he told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. “I would say this is their day and the last thing I would want to do is rain on their parade.”