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No Apology From Gen. Pace for Gay Stance
Also chastising Pace was Rep. Martin Meehan, D-Mass., who has introduced legislation repealing the policy.
"Our military is struggling to find and keep the soldiers we need," Meehan said of the strain caused by fighting two wars. "We are turning away good troops to enforce a costly policy of discrimination."
In a sign of how politically sensitive the issue remains, Democratic leaders have yet to schedule debate on Meehan's bill.
White House spokesman Tony Snow said President Bush "has always said that the most important thing is that we ought not to prejudge one another. But when it comes to government policy, it's been in place for a long time and we will continue to execute it according to the letter of the law."
Presidential contender Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who spoke to reporters outside a fundraiser in Beverly Hills, Calif., said Pace "should be given a chance to explain himself." Asked for his own view on homosexuality in the military, McCain said he believes the "don't ask, don't tell" policy is "successful and should be maintained."
Pace, a native of New York City, and a 1967 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, said in the interview that he based his views on his upbringing.
"As an individual, I would not want (acceptance of gay behavior) to be our policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else's wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior," he said, according to the audio and a transcript released by his staff.
Two gay advocacy groups strongly condemned Pace's remarks.
"General Pace's comments are outrageous, insensitive and disrespectful to the 65,000 lesbian and gay troops now serving in our armed forces," said the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which has represented some of the thousands dismissed from the military for their sexual orientation.
"Their sexual orientation has nothing to do with their capability to serve in the U.S. military," said Luis Vizcaino, spokesman for the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign.
"Don't ask, don't tell" was passed by Congress after a firestorm of debate in which it was argued that allowing homosexuals to serve openly would hurt troop morale and recruitment and undermine the cohesion of combat units.
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