General James Amos, Commandant of the USMC, says the "distraction" of openly gay soldiers will cause more casualties on the battlefield.
"When your life hangs on a line, on the intuitive behavior of the young man ... who sits to your right and your left, you don't want anything distracting you," Amos told reporters at the Pentagon. "I don't want to lose any Marines to distraction. I don't want to have any Marines that I'm visiting at Bethesda (hospital) with no legs," he said. He added that "mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines' lives. That's the currency of this fight." His comments were the toughest yet on the issue, after he testified at a congressional hearing that he opposed lifting the ban in a time of war. Amos said Marines in combat in Afghanistan sent a "very strong message" in the Pentagon's study released earlier this month, expressing opposition to repealing the ban in a survey."I have to listen to that," he said.Metro Weekly's Chris Geidner reports that Amos' comments have sparked outrage among pro-repeal groups. Aaron Belkin, the director of the Palm Center, told Metro Weekly, "Among those U.S. Marines who know a gay or lesbian peer in their unit, 88.1 percent say that the unit functions effectively. Gen. Amos is cherry-picking the data to support his 20th century views, and everyone knows it." Belkin added, "Gen. Amos admitted [in his testimony on Dec. 3] that he is the only Service Chief who did not take the time to ask his colleagues in foreign militaries whether allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly undermines combat effectiveness." [snip]
Servicemembers United executive director Alex Nicholson, meanwhile, said in a statement that Amos's "commentary is moving from the realm of reasonable disagreement in the provision of professional military advice to hysteria-inducing absurdity on this topic that reflects very poorly on DOD and on the administration." SLDN's Sarvis went on in his statement to say of Amos's comments, "He had his say before the Senate and House. General Amos needs to stop lobbying against his Commander-in-Chief, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. If he cannot do that, the President should ask for his resignation."