A gay advocacy group demanded an apology Tuesday from the Pentagon's top general for calling homosexuality immoral.
In a newspaper interview Monday, Marine Gen. Peter Pace likened homosexuality to adultery and said the military should not condone it by allowing gays to serve openly in the military.
"General Pace's comments are outrageous, insensitive and disrespectful to the 65,000 lesbian and gay troops now serving in our armed forces," the advocacy group Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said in a statement on its Web site.
The group has represented some service members dismissed from the military for their sexual orientation.
Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made his remarks in an interview Monday with the Chicago Tribune. He was responding to a question about the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that allows gays and lesbians to serve if they keep their sexual orientation private and don't engage in homosexual acts.
Pace said he supports the policy, which prohibits commanders from asking about a person's sexual orientation. Over the years thousands have been dismissed under this policy, signed into law by President Clinton in 1994.
"I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts," Pace said in the interview. "I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way."
Pace, a native of Brooklyn, New York, and a 1967 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, said he based his views on his upbringing.
"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," Pace was quoted as saying.
The newspaper said Pace did not address concerns raised by a 2005 government audit that showed some 10,000 troops, including more than 50 specialists in Arabic, have been discharged because of the policy.