Yuma, Arizona Mayor Al Krieger is being criticized for calling gay troops “limp-wristed” and unfit for service, local NBC affiliate KYMA reported.

In a Memorial Day speech at Desert Lawn Cemetery, the Republican mayor spoke in favor of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the policy that bans gay troops from serving openly. “And I cannot believe that a bunch of limp-wristed, lacey-drawed people could do what those men have done in the past,” the Army veteran said.

“Apparently old prejudices die hard,” openly gay Marine Eric Alva, the first service member injured in the Iraq war, wrote at HRCBackStory.org.

“These hateful words are absolutely inconsistent with the unbending physical and mental courage that I encountered among all of the men and women with whom I served, whether gay or straight,” he added.

Comparing himself to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, Krieger defended himself, saying those leaders would have agreed with him.

“There is an issue currently in the military with homosexuals serving on the battlefield and I think it's going to be detrimental to men on the battlefield to have that conflict with sexual preference,” Krieger said, then added that America is at war and in need of “solid, strong men, not pacifists, to fight those battles.”

Openly gay Army veteran Jarrod Chlapowski called Krieger's comments “offensive.”

“It's deliberately offensive, an inaccurate characterization of gay and lesbian service members that do serve this country honorably everyday,” the 28-year-old Chlapowski said.

Krieger said he didn't mean to offend anyone, saying he was just speaking from his heart.

“It wasn't a prepared speech, it came from my heart and that's the way I feel about things. And some people don't agree with the way I feel about things. And that's fine, they don't have to.”