Clinton Seesaws on Question of Gay Morality
Published on Thursday, March 15, 2007 by the New York Times
Clinton Seesaws on Question of Gay Morality
by Patrick Healy
 

WASHINGTON, March 14 — Asked if she believed homosexuality was immoral, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, initially said Wednesday that it was for “others to conclude,” but later issued a statement saying she did not think being gay was immoral.

Her remarks came a day after Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he should not have publicly expressed his personal view that homosexual acts were immoral and akin to adultery, a position that he said was a factor in his opposition to gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military. His views had appeared in The Chicago Tribune on Monday.

A rival of Mrs. Clinton for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois was asked the same question three times on Wednesday and sidestepped the issue, according to an article in Newsday.

But a spokesman for Mr. Obama said last night that the senator disagreed with General Pace’s remarks and believed that homosexuality was not immoral.

Mrs. Clinton supports allowing gay men and lesbians to serve in the military, which differs from the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, adopted under President Bill Clinton in 1993.

Asked on ABC News on Wednesday if she agreed with General Pace’s view that homosexuality was immoral, Mrs. Clinton said, “Well, I’m going to leave that to others to conclude.” She added, “I’m very proud of the gays and lesbians I know who perform work that is essential to our country, who want to serve their country, and I want make sure they can.”

Then on Wednesday night, a spokesman released a statement from Mrs. Clinton responding to the question: “I disagree with what he said and do not share his view, plain and simple,” she said. “It is inappropriate to inject such personal views into this public policy matter, especially at a time in which there are young men and women in such grave circumstances in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in other dangerous places around the world.”

Joe Solmonese, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights group, said he was concerned about the initial responses of both Democratic senators and said his group would seek clarification from their campaigns on Thursday. He compared their comments unfavorably with the rebuke of General Pace by Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, who said he “respectfully but strongly” disagreed that homosexuality was immoral.

After Mrs. Clinton released her statement, Mr. Solmonese said, “I still feel like the reaction from Senator Clinton and Senator Obama merits clarification on their views on the morality of our community.”

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