General Peter Pace is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, - America's highest ranking military position. A few weeks ago, General Pace said in a discussion with editors and reporters of the Chicago Tribune: "I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts. I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way.”
He further added: "As an individual, I would not want [acceptance of gay behavior] to be our policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else's wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior." His moral views about homosexuality are based on his upbringing, he also said in the interview.
I first heard news reports of General Pace's comments while driving in my car. I was incredulous and felt that this must be a misunderstanding that will quickly get cleared up. Just about anyone who knows and meets General Pace mentions what a caring human being he is, as well as being a great leader. Furthermore, someone in his position, given all his extensive dealings with the press and all the media training he must have received through his career, would not express such beliefs publicly, even if he happened to hold them.
But the day after his Chicago Tribune interview, General Pace issued a statement that said: "In expressing my support for the current [don't ask, don't tell] 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." Senior staff members further added that he was expressing his personal opinion and had no intention of apologizing.
General Pace is obviously entitled to his opinions, but I suspect that he wishes that he had not publicly said something so hurtful to so many. I immediately thought of the impact of such remarks on my gay and lesbian friends, as well as those who have children who are gay or lesbian. I thought of my IBM colleagues who are working so hard in our Global Workforce Diversity programs, whose aim it is to create a culture of diversity and inclusion across the company so we can attract and retain the best possible talent. I wonder how the many thousands in our armed forces who are gay or lesbian felt upon hearing their leader say that their feelings and actions are immoral. My feelings went out to the families of the men and women who have been killed or seriously injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, and happen to be homosexual.