Republican presidential hopeful Dr Ben Carson says he would consider re-implementing a ban on openly gay military personnel.
In an interview with US cable news network CNN on Monday, the retired neurosurgeon and the new chair of his election campaign, retired Army Major General Robert F. Dees, discussed women in combat roles and gay people serving in the country's military.
Dees said he didn't think the current policy of allowing gay and lesbian armed forces to serve openly was what the military wanted.
“Well, I think the first priority again is cohesion, and the second priority would be that the commander-in-chief listen to the best military advice, so on a number of these social issues the best military advice has been thwarted and the administration has said, ‘Do this, do this, do this,’ apart from military and defence considerations as a priority," Dees said.
Carson said, as president, he would look at the evidence regarding the rollback of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and wouldn't make decisions based on ideology.
“One of the things that I learned in a long medical career is that you make decisions based on evidence, and not on ideology. So, yes, I would be willing to sit down with people from both sides and examine the evidence and make decisions based on what the evidence shows," he said.
The first academic study following the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" found no negative effects on the US military.
In December last year, Carson told a military veterans' event in Iowa that he preferred the old "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and that he didn't want to see transgender people serving openly in the military.
“We have too many important things to do when our men and women are out there fighting the enemy, the last thing we need to be doing is saying, ‘What would it be like if we introduced several transgender people into this platoon?’ Give me a break. Deal with the transgender thing somewhere else," he said.
Carson was also confronted by a same sex-attracted woman at a campaign event in New York at the weekend and was asked whether he thought people like her "chose to be gay". He did not answer.
Last week Carson's campaign manager and 20 other staff members quit amid reported infighting and dropping poll numbers. A USA Today poll had him at 6th place yesterday among the Republican's field of candidates.
The first Republican presidential primary will be held on February 1 in Iowa.