Dr. Ben Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins University and a conservative celebrity, has apologized for comparing 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 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.

He walked back the comments during an appearance on CNN's The Situation Room, denying that he had made the comparison.

“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.”

In a statement released Friday, Carson apologized to John Hopkins University for his “poorly chosen words.”

“I am sorry for any embarrassment this has caused,” Carson said. “But what really saddens me is that my poorly chosen words caused pain for some members of our community and for that I offer a most sincere and heartfelt apology.”

“Although I do believe marriage is between a man and a woman, there are much less offensive ways to make that point.”