Outraged pro-gay groups are busy
writing press releases, posting blog entries, and encouraging a
letter writing campaign to President George W. Bush over his decision
to award former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter
Pace a Presidential Medal of Freedom. The groups say homophobic
remarks made before his departure leave him undeserving of one of our
country's highest honors.
When asked if “Don't Ask, Don't Tell”
- the military's policy of barring gays and lesbians from serving
openly – was outdated, Pace answered he didn't believe so. “From
that standpoint,” he said, “saying gays should serve openly in
the military, to me, says that, by policy, we'd be condoning what I
believe to be immoral activity.” Pace made his remarks in a March
2007 interview with the Chicago Tribune.
Pro-gay group Parents, Families and
Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) called honoring Pace
“unacceptable.” While Aubrey Sarvis, Executive Director of
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a group dedicated to
ending GLBT discrimination in the military, said in a prepared
statement, “Honoring General Pace with the country's highest
civilian award is outrageous, insensitive and disrespectful to the
65,000 lesbian and gay troops currently serving on active duty in the
At the demand of Secretary of Defense
Robert Gates, Pace released a statement saying that he regretted
expressing his personal views on morality, but has never apologized
for his remarks.
Several weeks after his comments, Gates
announced that he would advise President Bush not to renominate Pace
for a second term. Gates said the decision was not based on
performance, but rather concerns over a difficult Senate Armed
Services Committee confirmation stemming from his role in the early
mismanagement of the Iraq war.
In testimony before the Senate
Appropriations committee in the fall of 2007, Pace explained his
remarks, “[W]e should respect those who want to serve the nation
but not through the law of the land, condone activity, in my
upbringing, is counter to God's law... All I'm saying is that in my
responsibility – with the authority I've been given and
responsibilities I've been given – are to obey the law of the land
and to object if something is either illegal or immoral.”
In an email to On Top Magazine,
Steve Ralls, PFLAG Director of Communications, lamented Bush's
decision by saying, “When mothers and fathers send their sons and
daughters off to serve, they expect them to be led by someone who
respects their skills and honors their commitment to our country.
General Pace, instead, disregarded the enormous sacrifice that gay
Americans have made in our Armed Forces and used his personal
prejudice to prop-up an unnecessary and counter-productive law...
President Bush should find a more suitable honoree.”
“Our men and women in uniform are
making tremendous sacrifices for our country and are looking for the
President to recognize leaders who offer them praise and vision, not
condemnation and scorn,” said Aubrey Sarvis.
General Pace is to be honored in a
presentation ceremony to be held June 19th at the White
House. President Bush is the sole decision maker for a medal that
does not require congressional approval.
On the net: National PFLAG can be found
The SLDN website is at www.sldn.org