Yuma, Arizona Mayor Al Krieger has apologized for calling gay troops “limp-wristed” and unfit for service.

The Republican mayor drew heat last week when he spoke in favor of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the policy that bans gay troops from serving openly, during a Memorial Day speech at Desert Lawn Cemetery.

“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.

Openly gay Marine Eric Alva called Krieger's comments “hateful.”

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

Jarrod Chlapowski, an openly gay Army veteran, also criticized Krieger, saying: ““It's deliberately offensive, an inaccurate characterization of gay and lesbian service members that do serve this country honorably everyday.”

“As mayor I must respect the lifestyle choices of others, no matter how disagreeable they are with my personal beliefs or my personal moral standards,” Krieger told the Yuma Sun on Friday.

“I apologize for my comments at the Memorial Day service at Desert Lawn cemetery on Memorial Day,” he added.

Earlier the mayor had defended his comments. Speaking to local NBC affiliate KYMA, he said he was only speaking from his heart and compared himself to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, 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.”