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Brownback throws support behind Pace

Other candidates disagree with the general's stance on gays.

March 16, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Sam Brownback is backing the Pentagon's top general over his remarks that homosexual acts are immoral.

The Kansas senator said Thursday that he planned to send a letter to President Bush supporting Marine Gen. Peter Pace, who this week in an interview with the Chicago Tribune likened homosexuality to adultery and said the military should not condone it by allowing gay personnel to serve openly.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs also said he believed that "homosexual acts between individuals are immoral .... I do not believe the United States is well-served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way."

Lawmakers of both parties criticized the remarks, but Brownback's letter called the criticism "unfair and unfortunate."

"We should not expect someone as qualified, accomplished and articulate as Gen. Pace to lack personal views on important moral issues," Brownback said.

Asked whether he agreed with Pace's comments, Brownback said: "I do not believe being a homosexual is immoral, but I do believe homosexual acts are. I'm a Catholic and the church has clear teachings on this."

Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama initially tried to sidestep the issue when asked about it this week, but Thursday both Democratic candidates sought to clarify their opposition to Pace's comments.

Obama (D-Ill.) did not directly answer Wednesday when asked if same-sex relationships were immoral, Newsday reported. Obama issued a statement Thursday, saying, "I do not agree with Gen. Pace that homosexuality is immoral. Attempts to divide people like this have consumed too much of our politics over the past six years."

Clinton (D-N.Y.) told ABC News on Wednesday that it's for "others to conclude" whether homosexuality is immoral. Thursday, she put out a statement saying that she'd heard from gay friends who said her answer sounded evasive.

"I should have echoed my colleague Sen. John Warner's statement forcefully stating that homosexuality is not immoral because that is what I believe," her statement said.

Meanwhile, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democratic hopeful, called Pace's remarks "unfortunate" and said the Bush administration should reject them, adding that he would push Congress to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell policy," which requires service members to keep their sexual orientation private.

On his campaign bus in Iowa Thursday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) declined to comment when asked whether he agreed with Pace's comment that homosexuality was immoral. He said he still backed the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy: "It's working."

Another Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, said he thought Pace's comments were "inappropriate for public discourse."

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