Ben Carson campaign chairman General Robert Dees argued on Thursday that gay people in the military who "flaunt" their sexuality "disrupt cohesion" among troops.
Dees has in the past expressed skepticism on having gay people openly serve in the armed forces and argued against other, as he calls them, "experiments in the military," such as having women in combat. Carson has said he would examine the evidence to determine whether he would reenact a prohibition on gay troops.
On Thursday, when asked whether he would advise Carson to reenact a gay ban in the military, Dees told radio host Alan Colmes, "Well the ultimate test for military effectiveness is readiness, it's cohesion, and anything that detracts from that is important. Dr. Carson often says it's important for people to have rights in accordance with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the U.S. Constitution, but no particular group ought to have extra rights."
Pressed on how being able to openly serve, as straight people are, constituted "extra rights," Dees contended that "the gays in the military" can "become somewhat militaristic."
"Where the extra rights come in is when the gays in the military become somewhat militaristic to the detriment of unit cohesion," he said.
Dees added that a question to be considered in determining policy toward gay people in the military was, "whether they, in the military, flaunt it and disrupt cohesion."
Asked whether he supported a reinstatement of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the policy put in place under President Bill Clinton that banned gay troops from revealing their sexuality, Dees said, "Well, all other soldiers don't go around talking about their sexuality."
He went on to say that, "I think Dr. Carson, you'll find him very loving and supportive of people and different interest groups. But most of all, he recognizes his primary status is to protect the American people. And he will do that to ensure we have proper readiness within the military forces."
Later in the interview, Dees expressed support for Carson's comment earlier in the campaign that any Muslim who wanted to be president should renounce Sharia law. Asked whether that standard should apply to Muslim members of Congress, Keith Ellison and Andre Carson, Dees replied, "Well, we should ask them what they think about Sharia."
Christopher Massie is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Christopher Massie at Christopher.Massie@buzzfeed.com.
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