US retired officers 'come out' demand apology from Gen Pace

March 20, 2007

General Peter Pace
WASHINGTON< DC — A group of seven high-ranking military veterans have responded to recent remarks by General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who recently called lesbian, gay and bisexual service members "immoral" and re-iterated his support for the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual service members.

The officers, who are all lesbian or gay, called on Congress to repeal the law, and demanded that General Pace apologize for his remarks.

"Our community has a long history of serving our country in the armed forces," the group said in a release. "Today, there are more than 65,000 lesbian and gay troops on duty. Another one million gay and lesbian veterans, including the seven of us, have served in our fighting forces. General Pace's remarks dishonor that service, as does the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law. General Pace must offer an immediate and unqualified apology for his remarks and Congress must take action to repeal the ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans who want to serve our country."

The highly-decorated officers include Col. Stewart Bornhoft, USA (Ret.); Capt. Joan E. Darrah, USN (Ret.); Capt. Robert D. Dockendorff, USNR (Ret.); Chaplain (Col.) Paul W. Dodd, USA (Ret.); Capt. Sandra Geiselman, USNR (Ret.); Col. E. A. Leonard, USA (Ret.); and Capt. Robert Michael Rankin, USN (Ret.). Each served more than 20 years, and several considerably longer. They have earned scores of awards, honors and commendations during their careers. Four served in the Vietnam War. They have served as company commanders, helicopter pilots, medical officers, commanding officers, psychologists, chaplains, combat engineers, platoon leaders, infantry officers, supply corps officers and intelligence officers.

"Does General Pace believe we are immoral, or that our service was unacceptable?" the group asked. "Does he appreciate the sacrifice and dedication of every patriot in our armed forces, regardless of their sexual orientation? As military leaders, we never discounted the enormous contribution that every service member brought to our armed forces. General Pace should do no less, and owes an apology to our men and women on the frontlines and their families."

"Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is enormously proud of these stellar officers," C. Dixon Osburn, the group's executive director, said in a release. "These seven, who stand on behalf of one million gay veterans now living in the United States, are irrefutable proof that lesbian and gay patriots have made valuable contributions to our fighting forces. They have commanded companies, advised government leaders, fought on the ground and directed troops from the air. It was their outstanding performance and dedication to our country, not their sexual orientation, that made all the difference."

For more information on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and biographies of the officers, please visit www.sldn.org.. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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