Steve Ralls

Tell the White House: No Medal for Pace

Filed By Steve Ralls | June 13, 2008 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Politics
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell, Medal of Freedom, military, Peter Pace, PFLAG, White House

What do you get for calling LGBT Americans immoral and supporting the continued firing of gay Americans?

If you're retired General Peter Pace, you get a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The White House announced today that Pace, a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, will be honored with one of our country's highest honors, despite maligning lesbian and gay Americans in uniform.

In May 2007, Pace sparked a furor (and deservedly so) when he told The Chicago Tribune that he supported the federal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on lesbian and gay personnel because, in his view, gay service members are "immoral" and the military is not "well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way."

Pace's remarks resulted in quick condemnation from LGBT allies in Congress (such as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton) and were even denounced by conservative lawmakers like Senator John Warner of Virginia, who said he "strongly disagreed" with Pace's views. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also distanced himself from Pace's statement, saying that, "I think personal opinion really doesn't have a place here," and acknowledging that Pace should not have expressed his personal views during the course of a conversation about military policy.

Pace, however, never apologized for his remarks despite outraging many gay service members, like former Navy Petty Officer Jason Knight, who was dismissed from the military after speaking up in response to Pace's interview.

Now, President Bush is preparing to honor the military's self-appointed "moral monitor" with an honor traditionally reserved for those who defend freedom . . . not those who try to deny it to millions of people.

Tell President Bush: Honoring General Pace for using his personal prejudice to meddle with military matters is just plain wrong. There should be no medal for bigotry and intolerance.

Originally posted at the PFLAG National Blog.

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Oh, please, can we choose tasks that are not futile for a change?

Little chance of Bush changing his mind. He may even give Pace a cluster to his Freedom Medal to honour his war on gays

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 13, 2008 11:17 PM

There is no denying the quality of the sacrifice and service of Gays and Lesbians in our armed services. If Bozo the President wishes to further cater to his hater base there is nothing we can do about it, but he is driving nails in the republican party coffin as he does so.

Um, it's not often that I disagree with PFLAG, but this is one of those times.

General Pace isn't getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom for "calling LGBT Americans immoral and supporting the continued firing of gay Americans," as Steve's post indicates. Not even Bush is crude enough to "honor" someone for prejudicial behavior that sparked outrage.

The General is being honored for his past history of military achievement. I don't know enough about Pace to judge his record of military knowledge and accomplishments, but I do know that he was already judged guilty of homophobia by the public. Let's keep the two separated. His military history may be worse than his homophobia!

Steve Ralls Steve Ralls | June 15, 2008 10:09 AM

A few points of clarification:

I don't believe Bush is giving Pace the Medal of Freedom BECAUSE of his remarks about LGBT service members. But, when a decision is made to bestow the nation's highest civil honor on someone, the totality of their record should be considered, and those remarks are one thing that should be taken into account. There's no doubt the reason behind Pace's honor is likely his military service, and specifically his work on the war. But, it's also inconceivable that the medal would be given to someone who had been investigated for sexual harassment, or who had made racist, sexist or other derogatory remarks.

When Pace was "invited" to retire, Barbara Starr at CNN reported that three reasons played into the decision not to renominate him for Joint Chiefs Chairman: The deplorable conduct of his war planning; his strident defense of Scooter Libby; and his remarks about gays in the military. If those 3 reasons were legitimate to consider for his re-nomination, they should be legitimate concerns for this honor, too.

Now . . . to the other point. Will Bush change his mind about honoring Pace? Not likely. But when Margaret Chase, Shirley Chisholm, Pat Schroeder and Carol Moseley-Braun ran for the Oval Office, a lot of people told them they couldn't get the men's vote and wouldn't make much of a difference. But today, we know that, slowly but surely, those candidacies helped, if even in just a small way, to pave the path for a serious female candidate.

And there were likely many people who told Rosa Parks that staying in her seat wouldn't end racial segregation, either.

This is about putting people on notice that they don't get a free pass for bigotry, and letting our elected leaders know that, if they choose to honor someone like Pace, they won't quietly get away with it. If we speak up now, it may set the "pace" for future honors like this one.

Just my two (or maybe three) cents. :-)