- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2007

Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, caused a stir at a Senate hearing yesterday when he said he thinks homosexual activity is immoral and should not be condoned by the military.

Gen. Pace, who retires next week, said he was seeking to clarify similar remarks he made in the spring, which he said were misreported.

“Are there wonderful Americans who happen to be homosexual serving in the military? Yes,” he told the Senate Appropriations Committee during a hearing focused on the Pentagon’s 2008 war-spending request.

“We need to be very precise then, about what I said, wearing my stars and being very conscious of it,” he added. “And that was very simply 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.”

Antiwar protesters sitting behind Gen. Pace jeered the four-star Marine general’s remarks, prompting committee Chairman Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, to abruptly adjourn the hearing and seal off the doors.

The hearing resumed about five minutes later, with Gen. Pace saying he would be supportive of efforts to revisit the Pentagon’s policy as long as it didn’t violate his belief that sex should be restricted to a married heterosexual couple.

“I would be very willing and able and supportive” of changes to the policy “to continue to allow the homosexual community to contribute to the nation without condoning what I believe to be activity — whether it to be heterosexual or homosexual — that in my upbringing is not right,” he said.

Gen. Pace’s lengthy answer on homosexuals was prodded by Sen. Tom Harkin, who said he found the general’s previous remarks as “very hurtful” and “very demoralizing” to homosexuals serving in the military.

In March, the Chicago Tribune reported that Gen. Pace said in a wide-ranging interview: “I do not believe the United States is well-served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way.”

Mr. Harkin, Iowa Democrat, said he wanted to give Gen. Pace a chance to amend his remarks in light of his retirement.

“It’s a matter of leadership, and we have to be careful what we say,” he said.

Gen. Pace noted that the Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits homosexual activity as well as adultery. Mr. Harkin said, “Well, maybe we should change that.”

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