The Morality of General Peter Pace
March 13th, 2007
Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Chicago Tribune yesterday that he supports “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” because homosexual acts “are immoral”:
“I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts,” Pace said in a wide-ranging discussion with Tribune editors and reporters in Chicago. “I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way.
“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,” Pace said.
Now Gen. Pace is expressing extremely limited regret over his comments:
In a statement Tuesday, he said he should have focused more in the interview on the Defense Department policy about gays — and “less on my personal moral views”.
However, Gen. Pace’s senior staff members who wished to remain anonymous said that the general had no intention of apologizing. Senator John Warner, the senior Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, strongly rebuked Pace’s comments, saying “I respectfully, but strongly, disagree with the chairman’s view that homosexuality is immoral.”
Staff Seargent Eric Fidelis Alva, who is America’s first serious Marine casualty in the Iraq War, responded this way:
“Judging gay men and women in the military for factors unrelated to their fitness to serve undermines our military’s effectiveness. Certain leaders’ bigotry should not be a rational basis for discrimination. This kind of prejudice is going to continue to have a direct impact on our national security as we allow qualified gay men and women to lose their jobs for no good reason. This policy — and General Pace’s bigotry — is outdated, unnecessary and counter to the same American values our soldiers are giving their lives for each and every day.”
So here’s a question that Gen. Pace ought to answer: is Staff Seargent Alva immoral? Alva, you may remember, lost his right leg to a land mine during the early days of the war, and was awarded a Purple Heart from President Bush himself. He also publicly came out as gay three weeks ago and is now the Human Rights Campaign’s spokesman against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Gay men and women are serving this nation with distinction in Iraq, Afganistan and elsewhere. Thousands more want to, but can’t. The Williams Project at UCLA (PDF: 246KB/22 pages) estimated that there are about 65,000 gay and lesbian troops in the US military, and another one million gay American military veterans. The Government Accountability Office found in 2005 (PDF: 1,007KB/50 pages) that of the 9,488 service members who had been discharged since 1993 under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” about 757 “held critical occupations,” including 322 with “skills in an important language such as Arabic, Farsi or Korean.”
If there is an “immorality” problem, it’s not with those who have served our country. That immorality rests with those who would prefer that we accept convicted felons over proud, brave, and loyal men and women exemplified by Staff Sgt. Alva.