Top general won’t apologize for remarks on gays

March 13, 2007 at 3:09 pm Leave a comment

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The top U.S. military officer, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, doesn’t plan to apologize for telling a newspaper that homosexuality is immoral, his senior staff told CNN on Tuesday.

Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Chicago Tribune on Monday that he supports the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy banning openly gay people from serving in the U.S. armed forces.

The general also compared homosexuality to adultery — behavior that is prosecuted in the military, he said.

“My upbringing is such that I believe that there are certain things, certain types of conduct that are immoral,” Pace told the Tribune. “I believe that military members who sleep with other military members’ wives are immoral in their conduct.”

Pace also told the paper, “I believe that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral, and that we should not condone immoral acts.

“So the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ [policy] allows an individual to serve the country … if we know about immoral acts, regardless of committed by who, then we have a responsibility.

“I do not believe that the armed forces are well served by saying through our policies that it’s OK to be immoral in any way, not just with regards to homosexual acts,” the Joint Chiefs chairman said.

“So from that standpoint, saying that gays should serve openly in the military to me says that we, by policy, would be condoning what I believe is immoral activity,” he added.

Advocacy group: Pace should apologize

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a nonprofit group that represents military personnel affected by the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, demanded Tuesday that Pace apologize for his remarks.

“Gen. Pace’s comments are outrageous, insensitive and disrespectful to the 65,000 lesbian and gay troops now serving in our armed forces,” said C. Dixon Osburn, the group’s executive director. “Our men and women in uniform make tremendous sacrifices for our country, and deserve Gen. Pace’s praise, not his condemnation.”

The statement added, “It is inappropriate for the chairman to condemn those who serve our country because of his own personal bias. He should immediately apologize for his remarks.”

Asked if Pace would apologize, his senior staff members said the general stands by his statements as an expression of his personal opinion, and he has no intention of apologizing.

President Clinton signed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy into law in 1994. The military has supported the policy, citing its belief that homosexuality is detrimental to good order and discipline in the armed forces.

CNN’s Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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