General Pace’s Remarks Ignite National Debate on Gays in Military

Former Republican Senator Alan Simpson has come out against the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in a Washington Post editorial criticizing recent comments by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace, who said that “homosexuality is immoral” and gays hould not be allowed to serve openly.

Alan_simpsonHere’s an excerpt from Simpson’s op-ed:

“In World War II, a British mathematician named Alan Turing led the effort to crack the Nazis’ communication code. He mastered the complex German enciphering machine, helping to save the world, and his work laid the basis for modern computer science. Does it matter that Turing was gay? This week, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said that homosexuality is “immoral” and that the ban on open service should therefore not be changed. Would Pace call Turing “immoral”?

Since 1993, I have had the rich satisfaction of knowing and working with many openly gay and lesbian Americans, and I have come to realize that “gay” is an artificial category when it comes to measuring a man or woman’s on-the-job performance or commitment to shared goals. It says little about the person. Our differences and prejudices pale next to our historic challenge.”

Good for Simpson. Incidentally, plenty of people did call Turing “immoral” at the time, and he killed himself with a cyanide apple a year after being convicted of “gross indecency” after it was discovered he was in a homosexual relationship. Following that conviction he was ordered to undergo hormone therapy or go to prison.

According to Pentagon figures released Tuesday, the number of gays discharged from the military dropped significantly in 2006: “According to preliminary Pentagon data, 612 homosexuals were discharged in fiscal 2006, fewer than half the 1,227 discharged in 2001. On average, more than 1,000 service members were discharged each year from 1997 to 2001 — but in the past five years that number has fallen below 730.” Critics have charged the U.S. Military with hypocrisy for retaining its gay and lesbian servicement simply because it needs them in a time of war.

Meanwhile, some at the Pentagon — Undersecretary of Defense David Chu to be precise — are suggesting that any national debate on gays in the military will undermine the war on terror.

Said Slate‘s Nathaniel Frank: “This is an astonishing claim for Chu to make—that not only must gays conceal their homosexuality to protect unit cohesion, but the entire country must avoid discussing homosexuality or else it will undermine the war effort. By this reasoning, we should ban discussion of whether to increase troops in Iraq and prohibit an inquiry into conditions at Walter Reed.”

More as it develops.

UPDATE: Presidential hopeful Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) today applauded General Pace’s remarks, casting his vote on the side of the bigots. Said Brownback in a circulated letter: “The question is whether personal moral beliefs should disqualify an individual from positions of leadership in the U.S. military? We think not. General Pace’s recent remarks do not deserve the criticism they have received. In fact, we applaud General Pace for maintaining a personal commitment to moral principles.”

You may have missed…
Gen. Peter Pace Says Military Shouldn’t Condone “Immoral” Gays [tr]
General Pace Expresses Regret Over Anti-Gay Comments [tr]


  1. rjp3 says

    Would Pace call Turing “immoral”?

    To even ASK that question is to miss the point who Peter Pace is. OF COURSE he would call Turing immoral. Peter Pace is NOT a Christian. Most people who call themself “christian” are not. Raised a Roman Catholic I have seen the teaching of the last two decades turn former Christians into Christianists who feel free to pass moral judgement on others – as Peter Pace felt he could do. Christ told followers that they should not judge each other – and only God has a right to judge. Pace wants not only to pass judgement but also to divide people along his judgement lines on this earth. That is where religion leads it’s follower’s astray. And that is most “christians” today. No live and let live. No equality. These people would have driven Mary Magadeline out of Christ’s inner circle. Peter Pace is SELF RIGHTIOUS – that once was a non-christian thing to be, but I bet it helped him get promoted.

  2. mark m says

    Alan Simpson is a patriot and a “true American.” I like when I can say that about a Republican and not feel icky.

    I want to see more Republicans stand up for gays in the name of rugged indivdualism that conservatives are always touting as a basis for the Party.

    There are numerous ex-military who can testify to the fact that gay men and women were their brothers and sisters in arms.

    The thing about the Marines that anti-gay proponents ignore is the kinship and bond that forms between men and women who put their lives on the line for each other. When they’ve walked through hell together, they generally don’t give a shit who’s gay.

    I still find it ironic that so many people against gays serving in the military are people who have never and will never serve in the military.

  3. adamblast says

    Thanks to the link to that Slate article by Nathaniel Frank, too. It’s awesome.

    I’m pleased as punch that we’re making big rhetorical strides on the military’s policies of gay exclusion. This could actually happen soon if we keep the heat on. (Of course, by soon, I mean sometime within the next couple of presidencies.)

  4. Ed says

    And let’s not forget about the great contributions being made in visibility by a gay, Latino Marine.

    Oh god no, not HIM – I’m talking about Eric Alva.

    Let’s hope Alva gets his own Salon editorial. After all, he really HAS sacrificed.

  5. Marco says

    Over 11,000 gays and lesbians have been discharged since DADT was adopted. Something like 750 from key positions, like translators.

    I hope others like Simpson come forward and speak up about this disgrace.

  6. Jack! says

    It really pisses me off reading those statistics about gay soldiers being discharged. I have been saying it for a while and it’s been comfirmed in this war. Whenever the US is in a dire situation gay people have to bale this country out.

  7. DowntownLA says

    Stupid SHillary was asked about the comments today on ABC. Her response: “Well I’m going to leave that to others to conclude.” Thanks for sticking up for us.

  8. John says

    Alan Simpson was instrumental in Clarence Thomas becoming a Supreme Court Justice (with life tenure) at a relatively young age. When I place in the balance the damage Thomas has done and will continue to do on the Supreme Court alongside Simpson’s supportive “op-ed piece” guess which way the balance tips?

    Its nice that the old codger has a libertarian streak, you know, in the Wyoming tradition, but his terrible legacy as a Senator far outweighs an op-ed piece, however nicely written.

    As for Brownback, I think his public support for Gen. Pace’s remarks reflects his efforts to make gay rights a prominent issue in the presidential election. In 2004, the antigay vote reelected Bush. I think Brownback wants that vote.

  9. Nick says

    Senator Sam Brownback… What an asshole! It never ceases to disaponit me how so close minded and ignorant people can be! How is it that people like this can’t see that what they are spreading is wrong? To a degree i feel that this has to do with religious conditioning. it is hard to find a religious person who can think freely without clinging to a musty old book written by ignorant farmers.

    it has been my experience that more hate and death has come about because of religious beliefs than not.

  10. Jeff in Deserto says

    I don’t think the decreased discharges are due to hypocrisy. The Army has a more complicated investigation procedure during a call-up or draft, ostensibly so people won’t pretend to be gay. After nearly a dozen years in the Army (mostly reserve) I left permanently in 2005, because I wasn’t willing to go back into the closet for active duty in Afghanistan (where I would have filled a “critical need”). Long story short — the investigation into my sexual orientation required approval at the Dept of Army level just to occur(instead of the usual command level) and wouldn’t have been granted if I hadn’t been publicly out (in a magazine article, not just to f&f; official policy is to assume self-admissions in a time of war are dishonest). The investigation ended when they decided to accept my resignation. I guess I wasn’t *that* critical.

  11. Will says

    Like a good boy, I tried to keep an open mind about Hillary, but she has done nothing to earn my support for her presidential run. On the contrary, every time she opens her mouth, my support for her drops. Now this. This refusal to stand up and state that homosexuality is not immoral is the last straw. She is now dead to me.

    Dear Sen. Rodham-Clinton, please drop dead. I will never vote for you again, for any office.

    I also add that the other paragon of great Democratic hope from Illinois was just as cowardly and also refused to state that homosexulaity is not immoral. Maybe not so cowardly. If this is how they truly feel, then no dime on mine will flow into their campaigns.

    As usual, we’re being thown under the bus for some non-existant votes in the nebulous mid-west or south. When will these idiots wake up and realize that now matter how “centrist” they are, so as to try to obtain the votes of people who will never under any circumstance vote for them, all they do is turn off their own base.

  12. Gregg says

    Nice that Hillary can speak at a Gay Men’s Health Crisis dinner on Monday, but can’t immediately reject the idea that gays are immoral.

    Now she’s released a “statement” saying that she disagrees with Pace. Well, whoop-ee-doo. Playing politics as usual, she can’t actually SAY that we are not immoral. Screw her. And Obama.

  13. Robert In WeHo says

    As I was reminded listening to the radio today in the car, it’s called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” not “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Investigate.” I don’t know which conservative radio twit it was that said it, they all sound alike to me. The point was, as usual for a conservative, pointless. The fact that US Military aggressively pursues an ongoing policy of rooting out, prosecuting and then purging homosexuals from the five services all in the name of protecting the morality of our military by criminalizing gay sexuality is simply unacceptable. Dishonorably discharging gays from the military for no other reason than that they are gay (regardless of the fact that no one is supposed to be asking and no-one actively serving in the military is supposed to be telling) speaks volumes about where the misplaced priorities of our military currently lay. General Pace would rather waste hundreds of millions of dollars by drumming out fully trained and honorably serving homosexuals from amongst the militaries ranks than they are interested in living up to their own stated principals of honor, service and sacrifice. In stead of utilizing and capitalizing fully qualified, highly trained professional military members whom they (the US Armed Forces) have made a significant investment into, both in training time and money, they would rather cut off their nose to spite their face and waste the American taxpayers investment into these individuals in favor of starting over again and re-spending their time and money to create a replacement soldier at twice the cost of what they already had in the first place.

    I also find General Pace’s obsession with his so-called “issues of morality” highly perplexing when, let’s face it folks, the purpose of the Armed Forces job within our society is to take average law abiding citizens and mold them into people who are willing and able to kill other people without thinking twice. Now before anybody accuses me of calling members of the military murders, that’s not at all my point. I’m merely pointing out the fact that, in war, it is a kill or be killed proposition where there is no room for contemplation of the moral significance or insignificance of an individual persons sexual orientation or whether or not they can resist the temptation of committing adultery. In war, there’s no room for morality since there’s nothing moral about war. War is a dirty business and sometimes it’s a very necessary evil. General Pace would do well to remember that the delicate social morays of brain-dead Sunday service church ladies have no bearing whatsoever on whether or not a soldier is willing to die or kill for his or her country. As a leader, he undermines his own “moral” authority, respectability and credibility as a leader when he separates himself from those who are expected to follow him. In self-proclaiming his own superiority as a human being over those he chooses to judge as inferior to himself, he is in fact undermining his own value, worth and respectability as a leader. Furthermore, the General demeans the very honor and worthiness of the people in the military who choose to willingly sacrifice of themselves in order to give back to their country for bestowing it’s good fortune upon them.

    Soldiers in our military will always do their duty and follow the orders of their commanding officer(s), it’s, after all, the only honorable thing to do. Don’t you think that as a nation we owe it to ALL of the members of our military (even the gay and lesbian ones) to honor their commitment and willingness to protect and defend this nation by giving them the respect that they ALL deserve for their service? Ask yourself this, will gay and lesbian soldiers still be willing to go out of their way to do more than is necessary to fulfill their obligation and their oath when they are called to fight? Certainly they would do so for their fellow soldiers but will they be as willing to do the same for a pompous, arrogant man who sees no worth or value in their efforts? What kind of a military is General Pace creating where the very people he is depending on to carry out his commands and to take up the initiative and answer his call to victory when he needs them are also the same people he demeans and disrespects because of his ignorant person beliefs and prejudices? Would you go out of your way to do more than is required of you on behalf of someone who demeans and humiliates you? I know I wouldn’t, I don’t know of anyone who would. General Pace is failing to lead by example, choosing instead to lead by intimidation. Leadership by intimidation, bullying and disrespect is doomed to fail. General Pace would do well to remember that before he opens his mouth and let’s his inner ugliness spill fourth, again…

  14. vince says

    That’s why there’s suppose to be a separation between church and State. What one person believes to be moral or not should have NO bearing on justice, liberty, freedom, and equality for ALL. Anyone running for PUBLIC office that attempts to incorporates their view of morality, should be removed from office. That’s is the problem we are currently having in the united states of amnesia. History shows clearly what happens to a state that is controlled by church (fear, ignorance, stupidity, poverty, crime). The church is desperate because they are slowly loosing power, but anyone of intelligence can clearly see the hypocrisies!

  15. John C says

    Undersecretary of Defense David Chu says “gays (must) conceal their homosexuality to protect unit cohesion”.

    Okay, for the fiftieth time…… Why aren’t other armies, not least Britain’s, falling apart right now since there are openly gay soldiers among them? It’s bullshit that Chu speaks, total homophobic bullshit supported by no evidence whatever. Or do we have to assume the US Army is weaker than those of other nations?

  16. ter says

    Senator Alan Simpson speaks the truth though it seems others have a problem with that.
    History is littered with this issue so I thought I would just show you where the 300 movie comes from in history. Hollywood sanitize the truth right out of the movie but here is some thing for the Generals of the Army & the Politicians should take note of!

    I have decided to lift up a book & give you a little insight into the movie of the “300” or “The Sacred Band of Thebes” (Text: Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe by John Boswell -ISBN 0-679-75164-5 (By the way a wonderful read that would curl the toes of the Chr. Church of out day for it Outs them big time-Hypocrites.

    Pg 61-63 “In the same symposium Phaedrus argued that no one’s behavior is better than that of those who are in love, because they would rather behave badly in sight of father or comrade than in view of those they love. He even advanced the idea that “if we could somewise contrive to have a city or an army composed of lovers & those they loved, they could not be better citizens of their country than by thus refraining from all that is base in a mutual rivalry for honor; & such men as these, when fighting side by side, one might almost consider able to make even a little band victorious over all the world. For a man in love would surely choose to have all the rest of the host rather than the one he loves see him forsaking his station or flinging away his arms; sooner than this, he would prefer to die many deaths,: while, as for leaving the one he loves in the lurch, or not succoring him in peril, no man is such a craven that the influence of Love cannot inspire him with a courage that makes him equal to the bravest born; & without doubt what Homer calls a “fury inspired” by a god in certain heros is the effect produced on lovers by Love’s peculiar power. Moreover, only such as are in love will consent to die for others.” (Symposium-Cambridge, 1967 pp 101-103.
    Perhaps inspired by this recommendation (although it merely expressed common sense in relation to the social relations of men in antiquity), about 20 yrs later (378 B.C.E.). Gorgidas did create such a company of three hundred men, composed of pairs of lovers. They were known as the “Sacred Band” of Thebes, because, as Plutarch later explained, “even Plato calls the lover a friend ‘inspired of God’” Living long after, Plutarch was in a position to know that the troop had played a crucial role in many military engagements (e.g., Tegyra,375, & Leuctra, 371), “& ….was never beaten, until the battle of Chaeronea [338 BCE] & when, after the battle, Philip [of Macedon, who won the battle] was surveying the dead, & stopped at the place where the three hundred were lying, all where they had faced the long spears of his phalanx, with their armor, & mingled one with another, he was amazed, & on learning that this was the band of lovers, burst into tears & said: “Perish miserably they who think that these men did or suffered aught disgraceful.”
    “Much later (3rd century of the Christian Era), Athenaeus (13.602) would echo the idea that young men become exceptionally brave under the influence of love for each other, & added that “This was proved, at any rate, by the Sacred Band organized at Thebes.”

    By the way I believe Philip of Macedon past a law that never again could such a group be formed in the army for due to political fear of they great power! It may be this law that our governments are still living under with regards to gays in the military. Maybe its time to get into the 21st century since we are at war & we do need such a force as the 300-The Sacred Bond of Thebes.

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