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Is Homosexuality Immoral? Clinton, Obama Won't Say

Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, though asked directly, have so far refused to say whether they agree with General Peter Pace that homosexuality is immoral.

Hillary_clintonABC News' Jake Tapper caught up with Hillary on the issue:

I also asked her about the comments by General Peter Pace that homosexulity is "immoral". Clinton has opposed the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, so I asked her if that law -- signed by her husband in 1993 -- was a mistake, and if homosexuality is "immoral."

"General Pace has clarified his remarks, but let's not lose sight of the fact that 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' is not working," she said. "We are being deprived of thousands of patriotic men and women who want to serve their country who are bringing skills into the armed services that we desparately need, like translation skills. And one can argue whether it was a good idea when it was first implemented, but we know have evidence as to the fact that we are in a time of war -- when we really need as many people as we can to recruit and retain in an all-volunteer army -- we are turning people away or discharging them not because of what they've done but because of who they are."

But is it immoral?

"Well I'm going to leave that to others to conclude," she said. "I'm very proud of the gays and lesbians I know who perform work that is essential to our country, who want to serve their country and I want make sure they can."

Although Clinton has met with gay groups twice this month (GMHC and HRC) and promised the HRC crowd a "partnership", she refuses to say whether or not she believes homosexuality is immoral. In evading the question, is Clinton simply making a pathetic political dodge to avoid conflict with potential conservative supporters that do believe it is immoral? Or does it speak more (and I sincerely hope it doesn't) about her underlying beliefs?

Looks like the "partnership" is off to a great start.

Luckily for Clinton, but not for LGBT folks, Barack Obama (also courting gay voters) appears to be opting for the same strategy.

Barack_obamaFrom Newsday's Spin Cycle:

Newsday caught Obama as he was leaving the firefighters convention and asked him three times if he thought homosexuality is immoral.

Answer 1: "I think traditionally the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman has restricted his public comments to military matters. That's probably a good tradition to follow."

Answer 2: "I think the question here is whether somebody is willing to sacrifice for their country, should they be able to if they're doing all the things that should be done."

Answer 3: Signed autograph, posed for snapshot, jumped athletically into town car.

It's a pretty simple question, don't you think?

John Edwards, so far, has been the most light on his feet on this issue. Asked by Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room whether he agrees with Pace's comments, Edwards replied, "I don't share that view."

We certainly deserve better answers from our candidates, and should demand them.

UPDATE: Our commenter Patrick notes a statement released by Clinton last night, in which she borrows from the Edwards playbook, as noted above: "I disagree with what he said and do not share his view, plain and simple. It is inappropriate to inject such personal views into this public policy matter, especially at a time in which there are young men and women in such grave circumstances in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in other dangerous places around the world."

Will "I don't share that view" be the new catchphrase for evasive maneuvering this election cycle? Looks like it so far.

You may have missed...
Gen. Peter Pace Says Military Shouldn't Condone "Immoral" Gays [tr]
General Pace Expresses Regret Over Anti-Gay Comments [tr]
General Pace's Remarks Ignite National Debate on Gays in Military [tr]

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  1. Maybe none of us "immoral" gays should support Hil or Barack until they've come out and said exactly how they feel.

    I hate these pussy politicians.

    Posted by: Bobby | Mar 15, 2007 8:52:54 AM

  2. I'm cynical and do not expect any major pol, who has a serious shot at the White House, to say the right thing on this topic.

    Posted by: James | Mar 15, 2007 8:53:39 AM

  3. I'm confused. I thought Hillary IS a lesbian or at least bisexual. Is there some speculation here that she is self-loathing and that this is where her stance on the moral vs. immoral issue could be blurred?

    Posted by: Delores | Mar 15, 2007 8:57:59 AM

  4. She tried to fix it later, after figuring out the suitably pr-processed "right" language to use, but it's still weak. What is wrong with her and with Obama that they can't be as forthright as Warner, a Republican? Two things to my mind: Either because they do think it is immoral, or they have to pander to the bigots.

    I agree with Larry Kramer that there is not one presidential contender who deserves our support.

    > From today's NYT: on Wednesday night, a spokesman released a statement from Mrs. Clinton responding to the question: “I disagree with what he said and do not share his view, plain and simple,” she said. “It is inappropriate to inject such personal views into this public policy matter, especially at a time in which there are young men and women in such grave circumstances in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in other dangerous places around the world.

    Posted by: Patrick M | Mar 15, 2007 9:01:56 AM

  5. Dear Senator Clinton,

    I am one of your constituents, and was, until today, very interested in the dialogue you began in earnest with the country some weeks ago.

    I write with great disappointment having just read an interview you gave to ABC political correspondent Jake Tapper. During the interview you were asked your opinion about the recent comments made by General Peter Pace, in which he referred to homosexuality as "immoral." You answered by stating your position that the current "don't ask, don't tell" policy is not working, with which I agree. But when Mr. Tapper pressed you to express whether you felt, as General Pace had asserted, that homosexuality was "immoral,” you responded that the question was “for others to decide."

    Senator Clinton, as a gay man living in the year 2007, I can tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. The question of whether homosexuality is immoral isn't left for others to decide. The question, I’m happy to report, has already been decided. The answer was a resounding "no."


    No, homosexuality is not immoral. No. It’s not. Yes, some people, mostly fearful heterosexuals or closeted homosexuals, may say that they personally find homosexuality immoral. But, truth is, homosexuality itself, a man loving a man, a woman loving a woman, has already been decided on, and the verdict is in: nope, not “immoral.”

    And who, you might ask, did this deciding? Who are these "others" that you refer to in the future tense, but actually exist in the past, present and future? They are me an my boyfriend. And my friend Oliver. And the cool lesbian that tends bar at Nowhere. We are the “others.” Us and every other gay man and woman in this country who at one moment in time had to confront themselves with all the poisonous, confidence shattering garbage that people like General Peter Pace have polluted our consciousness with. Standing there, staring into a mirror and thinking, "I am a homosexual. Is there something wrong with me? Am I immoral?"

    And every single one of us, Senator Clinton, we've answered no. Maybe not the first time we’ve asked, maybe not the tenth. But in the end, we've reached what is really an unprecedented consensus on this one. The answer is no. We all thought you got the memo.

    After we answered that question, we went on to discover that we were, throughout history, some of the most moral, spiritual, beautiful, creative beings that have ever walked this Earth. That was in the memo, too. If Mr. Tapper calls back tomorrow, feel free to respond accordingly.

    Which brings me to my disappointment. Senator Clinton, I know you don't think homosexuality is immoral. I mean, I know that in reality your personal opinion is that, no, of course homosexuality is not immoral. But that is not what you expressed today, given the opportunity to do so on a national stage. Which, to me, suggests one of two things: you are either a coward or a liar.

    Please, Senator Clinton, would you clarify your remarks? I don't want to think of you as a coward or a liar. Those labels don't rank very high in my book. Just a notch above immoral, actually.

    Posted by: zglass | Mar 15, 2007 9:02:19 AM

  6. "We certainly deserve better answers from our candidates, and should demand them."

    I think you got the only answer they could give, given the backward nature of your culture at this present time.

    Good luck!

    Posted by: protogenes | Mar 15, 2007 9:04:30 AM

  7. So who here is surprised by Hillary Clinton's remarks? NOT ME!I posted some time back on Towleroad that Hillary's views on how to "serve gays is fried with ketchup" and caught all kinds of crap for the comment! However, as her beliefs continue to "evolve" and of cours she continues to open her mouth and simply speak it turns out that I was not wrong. Interesting...WE DO NOT HAVE A FRIEND IN THE CLINTONS! And in my opinion, either of them!

    Posted by: RB | Mar 15, 2007 9:10:02 AM

  8. GREAT letter, ZGLASS. I hope you send it.

    Posted by: Jeff | Mar 15, 2007 9:16:36 AM

  9. Oh, I get it now: it's okay for us to die fighting for a country, but we can't live and be happy in that country.

    Posted by: shane | Mar 15, 2007 9:28:04 AM

  10. How about they just say: One's opinion on the morality of sexuality is a personal and private decision based on an individual's beliefs on how they choose to live their own life. In a diverse nation we should work to allow people freedom to live their lives based on the fullness of their individual spirituality and religious beliefs. There are many religious people who do not feel that homosexuality is immoral. As a Christian I believe Christ's message was that we are not meant to judge others in this life. That role is left for God and God only. As an American I know that we should work to prevent the one group from imposing it's religious doctrine onto other groups of Americans who hold different beliefs. As a married heterosexual, I can say any extra-marital sexuality straight or gay would be wrong for me.

    It really is that simple.

    If they need me as a speach writer I am availble. JEES!

    Posted by: rjp3 | Mar 15, 2007 9:31:55 AM

  11. I think the LGBT Community needs to take a deep breath, step back and think about what the GOP's underlying strategy is when these things come up before reacting. In 2006 the GOP knew a constitutional ammendment banning the future legalization of same sex marriage had absolutely no chance of passing. They still introducedit, held press conferences and stirred the waters to give this futile bill lots of attention. Why? They wantedto get Democrats, especially those up for election or presidential hopefuls to make statements that can be twisted and used to smear them. Though gays wanted a louder rebuttal, the Democrats voted in a block against the MPA and had a low key response and instead talked about raising the minimum wage, healthcare and Iraq and the average voter was not distracted by this fiasco.

    Today though different candidates have dlightly differnt positions, all Democrats are demanding a stop to any possible surge, a plan for withdrawal from Iraq and diplomatic engagement of Iran. Now a Republican General stirs the pot on something that is irrelevant to thediscussion of IKraq or the military. In fact also to the discussion of gays in the military. When LGBT issues come up the GOP tries to frame the discussion around the church and personal beliefs even though that is not relevant to civil law. Lifting the military ban does not mean civilians or the enlisted have to personally approve of LGBT relationships just that LGBT should be afforded the same civil protections, priveleges and responsiblities. Getting Obama or Clinton to engage in a debate on the "morality" of a civil issue is a distraction from the real debate. The democratic strategy for lifting the ban is to focus on military preparedness. How can we fight terror when we fire LGBT Arabic and Farsi speaking translators. Are not the LGBT veterens who came home disabledor missing limbs less noble than their straight counterparts?

    Personally as a gay man who sometimes wants validation I would like to hear Clinton and Obama say that homosexuality is as moral as hetersexuality. However as a LGBT activist I would strongly prefer they stick to the party strategy and not lose control of the debate so we can make real change and lift the ban altogether.
    Jon Winkleman

    Posted by: Jon Winkleman | Mar 15, 2007 9:40:07 AM

  12. What is immoral is the fact these candidates cannot make a decision about us as people, yet can still beg us for our money and votes. What is immoral is upon receiving our money and votes they push us aside. Anyway, why would I ever ask a heterosexual if they thought homosexuality was immoral. They haven't a clue. I agree with ZGlass. I don't even care if they have an opinion.

    Posted by: Bill | Mar 15, 2007 9:53:56 AM

  13. Jon Winkleman? Jon Winkleman? Hmmm, rings a bell....

    Let's see, that wouldn't be Jon Winkleman of the Stonewall Democrats, would it?

    Or maybe Jon Winkleman of the Hillary Rodham Clinton Meetup Group (

    A little disclosure, please, Miss Thing.

    Posted by: 24play | Mar 15, 2007 9:55:07 AM

  14. Fuhrer Rove could not have dreamt up a better divisive maneuver himself! Now we have the democrats eating their own young and imploding all by themselves. Sure, it would be effin' wonderful if every democrat was a complete faghag, but it ain't gonna happen. We better choose our battles wisely or else those stealthily focused Christiac Republicunts are going to win again.

    Posted by: Crixi Van Cheek | Mar 15, 2007 9:55:14 AM

  15. Is homosexuality immoral?

    Who the f**k knows!? But until somebody finds out, my homosexual ass is gonna get laid!

    Posted by: PC | Mar 15, 2007 9:59:24 AM

  16. God, is anyone else sick of Decision 2008 yet? Face it, we're not going to get a superhonest politician who can win. I'm sure Clinton and Obama don't think being gay is immoral, but so far they are too cowardly and political to come out and say it. But I disagree with the comment that none of these candidates deserves our support. Remember 2000, when everyone said Gore and Bush would be exactly the same? Thanks to them, we've been slouching toward disaster ever since. I just want a Democrat who can win so we can start inching away from the abyss that Bush has led us toward.

    Posted by: martin | Mar 15, 2007 10:01:32 AM

  17. I don't care what Clinton or Obama has to say about the question. It will be their actions that will show me if they support gays or not. If they or any other Democrat is going to be hurt by the answer to this question, presuming saying they don't think it is immoral, I would rather they not answer the question. The fate of the country shouldn't hang from a thread over gay issues like it did last time with Gay Marriage. These two politicians already support gay rights, I don't need a line drawn in the sand that could destroy their chances.

    Posted by: Patrick | Mar 15, 2007 10:03:34 AM

  18. Right now I support any Democratic President hopeful. The truth is, if Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama answer this question in favor of the GLBT community, they could lose the race for office. They have both said enough to insure that they support our GLBT communities. If we (GLBT) continue to probe it will only bring attention to the issue and once again polarize another election.

    Posted by: Cody | Mar 15, 2007 10:04:01 AM

  19. Does it really matter if Clinton and Obama personally think homosexuality is immoral? Morality is a subjective thing. If they respect us enough to recognize us as people who deserve the same rights as everyone else and are willing to work with us, what does it matter if they have a personal distaste for us taking it up the butt? I have a personal distaste for people who drive rusted out trucks and wear wife beaters but that doesn't mean I'm going to make them stop being who they are. People really need to stop harping on semantics. It's just as stupid as the whole 'make Hillary say she's sorry' debate. In the end it's just not important.

    Posted by: MT | Mar 15, 2007 10:07:42 AM

  20. Amen, Patrick and Cody. Also, yes, as a gay man I am concerned with gay rights. But there are a lot of other important issues that affect everyone as well. Sorry, but health care and foreign policy issues matter more to me than gay marriage at the moment.

    Posted by: martin | Mar 15, 2007 10:09:38 AM

  21. Yet, Senator Warner and former Senator Simpson, from VIRGINIA and WYOMING respectively, and both REPUBLICAN, had NO problem condemning Pace’s comments and stating, unequivocally, that they disagreed with his statement that homosexuality was immoral.

    Frankly, I’m really disgusted with Hillary and Obama’s responses. I think its beyond time for us to expect more from our “gay friendly”, “gay supportive” candidates than just having a “D” after their names. We need to hold politicians accountable for their words and action, regardless of their party affiliation, and demand that they pay us more than lip service in unannounced, unpublicized secret meetings in order to get our support.

    As a member of the United Church of Christ, I'm particularly bothered by Obama's dodging and weaving on gay issues. I can tell you, with confidence, that he isn't getting his positions on gay marriage or gay morality from his church. The UCC is supportive of gay marriage and celebrates its gay members, and gay people in general, as creations of God who are perfect just as they are.

    I’m also getting sick of HRC, et al, playing apologist to Democratic politicians and sucking up to them, NO QUESTIONS ASKED, but at the same time refusing to acknowledge the courageous, gay positive words and actions of truly gay supportive Republicans who put their careers where their mouths are; even when it goes contrary to their right-wing, fundamentalist base.

    Posted by: Zeke | Mar 15, 2007 10:10:24 AM

  22. "I agree with Larry Kramer that there is not one presidential contender who deserves our support."

    In principle I might agree. In practice I couldn't disagree more. It's thinking like that that causes voter apathy and allows an idiot like W to reign in office for 8 years.

    8 Years People! We've lost nearly a decade to that baffoon.

    And now we have a chance to replace him with someone at least competent (Hillary, Obama, Rudy, take your pick) but no...

    None of them deserves our support so we simply won't vote.

    And when the next fascist takes the oval office we'll cry and whine for another 8 years.

    Posted by: mark m | Mar 15, 2007 10:13:50 AM

  23. Martin, from your statement I can only assume that you don't have a family of your own. If you did you would probably better understand the importance of marriage equality and it ranking on the list of policies we should pursue.

    If you want to know just how important marriage rights are for those of us who are parents of children but not legally bound to each other, and where one parent is prohibited from being bound to the child (particularly in states like Florida), check out the archives and read the story of my family and what happened to us a few months back when I almost died. I won't go into it again but suffice it to say that when you're in that situation, NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING is more important to you than marriage equality.

    Trust me, by your argument, there will NEVER be a right time to pursue marriage equality. There is always something more pressing and there will always be something more important. Try imagining what life is like for long-term, committed gay couples who can't share legal protections, healthcare, child rearing or any of the other 1000+ benefits and responsibilities that they pay for but aren't allowed to receive. Perhaps then the importance of marriage equality, for those who want or NEED it, will be clearer and more of a priority.

    I don't mean to jump down your throat but this issue is one of VERY PERSONAL importance to me and I get really frustrated when I hear gay people who aren't in relationships and don't have children saying that marriage isn't all that important. You may not be one of those people, but experience has shown me that the overwhelming majority of people who share your opinion are.

    Posted by: Zeke | Mar 15, 2007 10:27:51 AM

  24. What do you expect?

    Posted by: GM | Mar 15, 2007 10:28:33 AM

  25. No one should be surprised by any of this. They will all pander. I say we join the "Draft Gore" movement and get someone who HASN'T pandered over the past few years to run. Al is solidly in our camp, spoke out against Iraq from the beginning and obviously has revolutionized the thinking on environmentalism. It's cool again.

    So, Run Al Run.

    Posted by: Ryan | Mar 15, 2007 10:33:03 AM

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