Among a sea of hard-line conservatives, gay marriage played only an ancillary role at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference, except for Ben Carson, who drew cheers when he made clear that traditional marriage should be the only type that is legally recognized, The Huffington Post
"As you know, I am not a fan of political correctness," Carson told the enthusiastic crowd. "I still believe that marriage is between a man and a woman."
Gays should have the same rights as everyone else, but not "extra rights," Carson, a neurosurgeon and conservative columnist, said.
Gay marriage has historically been a touchstone at CPAC, but this year it was little more than an aside. Carson, who placed third in the CPAC presidential straw poll behind tea party favorites Rand Paul and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Carson won 9 percent of the vote, compared with Cruz's 11 percent and Paul's 31 percent.
A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll
shows half of all Americans now favor gay marriage.
Although it was a key issue in Carson's address, he acknowledged there are bigger issues the party needs to be focused on, The Washington Times
"There are so many gigantic issues right now," he told The Times. "The ship's about to go off the cliff, and we really need to be focusing on those. The social issues are more like barnacles on the side of the ship, and we have plenty of time to get those off the ship after we get it turned around so that we don't go over the cliff."
Some attendees want the subject back on the main stage.
"You can't legislate morals," Robert Geyer, a 47-year-old CPAC attendee who works for an oil company in Baltimore, told The Times. "The system of marriage and our society works. But if you're going to make homosexuality a privileged class and force everybody else into that, [it's] going to break the system down."
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