As the AFA fundies, anti-gay hacks and the ex-gay-for-pay crowd continue to support the inappropriate comments of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace, pols are coming forward to condemn his comments that homosexuality is immoral, and that tying his personal views to support of DADT isn’t helpful or rational.
The simple fact is that Pace is hurting the gays and lesbians who are serving their country, at a time when morale is already low. Former Senator Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming in today’s WaPo, “Bigotry That Hurts Our Military“:
As a lifelong Republican who served in the Army in Germany, I believe it is critical that we review — and overturn — the ban on gay service in the military. I voted for “don’t ask, don’t tell.” But much has changed since 1993.
My thinking shifted when I read that the military was firing translators because they are gay. According to the Government Accountability Office, more than 300 language experts have been fired under “don’t ask, don’t tell,” including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. This when even Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently acknowledged the nation’s “foreign language deficit” and how much our government needs Farsi and Arabic speakers. Is there a “straight” way to translate Arabic? Is there a “gay” Farsi? My God, we’d better start talking sense before it is too late. We need every able-bodied, smart patriot to help us win this war.
…Gen. Pace is entitled, like anyone, to his personal opinion, even if it is completely out of the mainstream of American thinking. But he should know better than to assert this opinion as the basis for policy of a military that represents and serves an entire nation. Let us end “don’t ask, don’t tell.” This policy has become a serious detriment to the readiness of America’s forces as they attempt to accomplish what is arguably the most challenging mission in our long and cherished history.
Simpson joins John Warner, who had this to say yesterday.
In a rare rebuke of the nation’s top military officer, Sen. John Warner, R-Va., says he strongly disagrees with Gen. Peter Pace’s views that homosexuality is “immoral.”
“I respectfully, but strongly, disagree with the chairman’s view that homosexuality is immoral,” Warner said in a statement released by his office.
The WaPo editorial this AM is equally scathing about Pace — and those moral waivers the military has employed to allow felons, including a soldier who went on to be accused of murder and rape, to serve. See that after the flip.Pace obviously doesn’t mind this kind of soldier serving.
As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have worn on, the Pentagon has had to lower its recruitment standards. “Moral waivers,” granted to Army recruits with misdemeanor and felony convictions, nearly doubled between 2003 and 2006. One such recruit, Pvt. Steven D. Green, stands accused of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murdering her and her family. Meanwhile, the Defense Department purged 11,077 troops — including 322 desperately needed linguists — from its ranks between 1994 and 2005 simply because they were gay, although the pace of expulsions seems to have slowed as the military’s needs outweighed its moral scruples. Homosexuals serve admirably and openly — without fear of prosecution or sneering judgment — in 24 countries, including Israel, Australia and Britain, America’s staunchest ally in the Iraq war. Neither morale nor military performance has suffered.
As Gen. Pace considers the uproar over his remarks on morality, he might reflect on Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Fidelis Alva, who like his father and grandfather chose to serve in the military. When he enlisted 17 years ago, he lied about his sexual orientation. Sgt. Alva was the first American wounded in the Iraq war, when he stepped on a land mine. President Bush presented him with the Purple Heart. His moral fitness for duty was unquestioned. What’s immoral is that Sgt. Alva — and thousands of other brave members of the armed forces — had to lie or be silent for the right, the risk and the honor of serving his country.
Some of the presidential candidates have come out, so to speak, on one side or the other.
Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona said outside a fund-raiser in Beverly Hills, Calif., that Pace “should be given a chance to explain himself” and that “don’t ask, don’t tell” has been “successful and should be maintained.”
Several Democratic candidates, including former North Carolina Senator John Edwards and New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, assailed the comments and called for a repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
“I find it outrageous that at a time when we need as many good people serving in the military as possible, we are still talking about excluding people based on their sexual orientation,” another contender, Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, said in a statement.
Rudy Giuliani dodged the issue, releasing a statement signaling support for DADT but remaining silent on Pace’s “immoral” comments.
More at The Frontlines.