Last night on CNN, right-wing pundit Mark Smith argued that “openly gay people” should not be allowed to serve in the military, advocating the military’s current Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. He argued that gay soldiers are unable to “focus” on the war, comparing gays in the military to himself in a platoon of “Hooters waitresses.”
He stated, “[F]or example, if you put me in a platoon with nothing but, let’s say, Hooter waitresses, that’s going to distract me, and I’m not going to be focused on winning the war. I am going to be focused on other things.” Watch it:
Smith gives no evidence for his claim that gays are unable to “focus on winning the war.” His analogy makes light of the work being done by U.S. troops by comparing them to Hooters waitresses, who serve food and beverages in skimpy outfits.
Smith has never served in the military. Jon Soltz, an Army captain who served in Iraq in 2003 and founded VoteVets, called Smith’s comments “ridiculous” and said, “There’s gay people that serve with us when we’re in combat. They serve well.”
Other members of the military also disagree with Smith. Last December, a Zogby Interactive poll of servicemembers who had served in Iraq or Afghanistan found 73 percent of those polled were “comfortable with lesbians and gays.” A 2004 poll found that a majority of junior enlisted servicemembers believed gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military, up from 16 percent in 1992.
AMERICAblog’s John Aravosis also appeared in the segment and discussed the military’s policy of firing Arabic-speaking servicemembers just because they’re gay, even though there is a severe shortage of such linguists. Watch the full segment HERE.
CHETRY: Mark, in your opinion, do you think don’t-ask/don’t-tell is successful?
MARK SMITH, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR & CONSTITUTIONAL ATTORNEY: Well, I think we have to keep in mind that the military is about winning wars.
And, as a civilian, I’m not comfortable second-guessing the military with respect to military policy during a time of war. To me, putting openly gay people in the military is a social experiment. And now is not the time for it.
But, certainly, there — there certainly are concerns about having, you know, openly gay people in the military. I mean, the example I like to give is if — for example, if you put me in a platoon with nothing but, let’s say, Hooter waitresses, that’s going to distract me, and I’m not going to be focused on winning the war. I am going to be focused on other things.
And that’s the sort of tension, that, frankly, can hurt the morale and hurt the fighting mission. So, to me, I understand what the military is getting at. And I’m not here to second-guess military decisions on these kinds of critical issues about winning wars.
SOLTZ: This is ridiculous, these — these statements you make.
I mean, I have been in combat for this country. There’s gay people that serve with us when we’re in combat. They serve well.
SMITH: That’s right. And they’re allowed to serve well.
SOLTZ: They serve well.
SMITH: But they just can’t be openly gay or engage…
SOLTZ: But the difference is that…
SMITH: … in homosexual…
SOLTZ: … when we were in combat…
SOLTZ: … and we are fighting the enemy…
SMITH: They can be in the military.
SOLTZ: … of this country in combat…
SMITH: That’s right.
SOLTZ: … they’re helping me as an officer on a battlefield. And they have done a lot more to protect this country and fight al Qaeda than you will…
SMITH: That’s right.
SOLTZ: … ever do for the rest of your life.