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Schwarzkopf: 'A 2nd-Class Force' If Gay Ban Ends

May 12, 1993|MELISSA HEALY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Peck, repeating an argument invoked by many other military witnesses, said that the military has many standards that discriminate against certain groups of people and that gays have been excluded for good reasons from the military.

"We're not saying that because people are too short or too tall or mentally deficient or physically deficient somehow or another that their personal worth is something less," Peck said. "We're just saying they don't fit in. And if you want to start breaking down those barriers and trying to make people fit in where I don't think they belong, you're going to hurt the United States military."

The Campaign for Military Service, a coalition of groups agitating to lift the ban, issued a statement Tuesday criticizing Peck for his dramatic testimony revealing his son's homosexuality and his fears for the young man's safety.

Prejudice, the campaign statement said, motivated Peck to "sell out his own son to the ignorance and fear."

In a Times Poll of more than 2,300 military enlistees, 81% said they believed it was likely that homosexuals would be subject to physical violence at the hands of comrades. That number was highest among Marines responding to the poll--91% reported that gays would likely be attacked.

Peck on Tuesday offered a dramatic testimony to those fears.

"Fraggings didn't, let me tell you, begin or end in Vietnam," said Peck of the practice of soldiers killing their own comrades in combat situations. "Fratricide is something that exists out there, and there are people who would put my son's life at risk in our own armed forces."

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