General James T. Conway, the commandant of the Marine Corps, said Friday he would separate gay troops if Congress allowed them to serve openly.

In an interview with, the four-star general said: “We want to continue [two-person rooms], but I would not ask our Marines to live with someone who is homosexual if we can possibly avoid it.”

“And to me that means we have to build BEQs [bachelor enlisted quarters] and have single rooms,” he added.

Conway went on to say he believed an “overwhelming” number of troops would be opposed to sharing a room with someone who is openly gay.

“In this case, I would want to reserve the right of the Marine that thinks he or she wouldn't want to [share a room with a homosexual].”

In testimony before Congress last month, Conway expressed his opposition to repealing the 1993 law that prescribes firing for gay and lesbian service members who do not remain celibate or closeted.

“I think the current policy works,” he said. “My best military advice to this committee, to the secretary, to the president would be to keep the law such as it is.”

On Thursday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admonished an Army general who publicly advocated in favor of “don't ask, don't tell.”

Gates told reporters – and Mullen agreed – that Lt. General Benjamin Mixon's comments were “inappropriate” for an active duty officer.

Mixon said he disagreed with conventional wisdom that a majority of Americans oppose the law and urged people to speak up in favor of the policy.

“Now is the time to write your elected officials and chain of command and express your views,” Mixon said. “If those of us who are in favor of retaining the current policy do not speak up, there is no chance to retain the current policy.”

The rebuke came on the same day the Pentagon unveiled stricter guidelines on the firing gay troops under the policy.