Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson addresses the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference Feb. 26, 2015, in National Harbor, Md.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Taking to Facebook Wednesday night, Ben Carson apologized for remarking that being gay was “absolutely” a choice, saying in a statement that his “choice of language does not reflect fully my heart on gay issues.”

His apology followed an appearance earlier in the day on CNN, in which Carson offered that “a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight—and when they come out, they’re gay” as an explanation to demonstrate that being gay is a choice, and as a basis for opposing same-sex marriage.

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He went on to say: “I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation. I regret that my words to express that concept were hurtful and divisive. For that I apologize unreservedly to all that were offended.”

But he added this caveat: “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.”

Carson—a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon who was the first to successfully separate twins conjoined at the head—went on to clarify that he supports  “civil unions for gay couples,” while his view remains “that marriage is a religious institution,” saying he’s “not a politician,” even though he formally announced his 2016 presidential exploratory committee Tuesday.

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Currently, the Republican Party’s official position is that marriage “is based on the relationship that only a man and a woman can form.”

CNN reports that “other Republicans who are considering 2016 campaigns were silent on Carson’s comments Wednesday, with several failing to respond to requests for comment.”

Read more at CNN and Time.