Pace is not backing down. In a statement released this afternoon, he clarified his comments, saying, "In expressing my support for the current policy, I also offered some personal opinions about moral conduct. … I should have focused more on my support of the policy and less on my personal moral views."
During his interview with the Chicago Tribune on Monday, however, Pace talked at length about his personal views.
"My upbringing is such that I believe there are certain things, certain types of conduct that are immoral," Pace said. "I believe that military members who sleep with other military members' wives are immoral in their conduct, in that we should not tolerate that. I believe that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts."
Military experts, however, say morality was never the basis of the policy, which says gays may serve in the military only if they keep their sexual orientations private and don't engage in homosexual activity.
"Morality was never the basis of the policy," said retired Gen. Jack Keane. "It was about unit cohesion."
In fact, in July 1993, Colin Powell, who was then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and drafted the "don't ask" policy, endorsed the policy with these words to the House Armed Services Committee: "It is not in place in the military, those of us in senior leadership positions, to make moral or religious judgments with respect to homosexuality. Our perspective, and the only perspective we should bring to this issue, is the unique perspective of the military and what is best for military effectiveness."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, at a press conference today, responded to the Generals comments:
“We need the most talented people, we need the language skills, we need patriotic Americans who exist across the board in our population,” Pelosi said, calling on the military to “carefully consider” reversing the ban on gay service members. “We don’t need moral judgment from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.”