WASHINGTON-The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender advocacy group, today criticized Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, for his comments during a Senate hearing. Gen. Pace said yesterday that "We should respect those who want to serve the nation but not through the law of the land, condone activity that, in my upbringing, is counter to God's law." Gen. Pace also admitted that there are gays and lesbians serving honorably.
"Gen. Pace's job is to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, not to use his own personal feelings to decide what is morally acceptable or not," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "He is supposed to be our nation's top military leader, not the top religious leader. Our country is at war. What brave, patriotic service members do in their private lives should be his last concern, especially at a time when the military needs every patriotic man and woman willing to serve."
Gen. Pace has made anti-gay comments in the past. In March, Pace told the Chicago Tribune that "I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that [the U.S. military] should not condone immoral acts...I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is okay to be immoral in any way...As an individual, I would not want [acceptance of gay behavior] to be our policy." He is also a supporter of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
"I applaud the Senator Harkin's position that Gen. Pace's comments in Chicago demoralized men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan," stated HRC military spokesman and Iraqi War Veteran Antonio Agnone. "In finally stating that gays and lesbians are honorably serving this country in the military, Gen. Pace tacitly acknowledges the significant contributions of every one of these brave men and women."
"Gen. Pace should explain to the 60,000 gay and lesbian troops on active duty why he seeks to dishonor their service," continued Solmonese. "To dishonor the service of men and women standing on the streets of Baghdad and serving around the globe is shameful, and it jeopardizes national security. Support for a discriminatory policy that denies people the right to be who they are and serve openly in the armed forces shows that the nation's safety and security are not Gen. Pace's primary concerns."
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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