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Posted Jun 12, 2010, 1:07 pm
Yuma Mayor Al Krieger, commenting on the move to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" during a Memorial Day speech, called gay troops "lacy-drawered, limp-wristed people."
Apparently referring to veterans, he said, "And I cannot believe that a bunch of lacy-drawered, limp-wristed people... could do what those men have done in the past."
In a subsequent interview with Yuma's KYMA, Krieger said he's been compared to Washington and Lincoln for making his remark.
"I am reluctant to compare myself to George Washington or Abraham Lincoln," Krieger told reporter Nick Cilletti, "but I did get some feedback on what I said, and I don't believe I said anything different from what they would have said."
One wonders if Krieger has ever heard the persistent rumor that Honest Abe was, um, gay?
Krieger's remarks have attracted national attention, drawing fire from the Huffington Post and a slap from the Advocate, the gay and lesbian news magazine.
Krieger apologized in an interview with the Yuma Sun on Friday:
As mayor I must respect the lifestyle choices of others, no matter how disagreeable they are with my personal beliefs or my personal moral standards.
I apologize for my comments at the Memorial Day service at Desert Lawn cemetery on Memorial Day.
Support TucsonSentinel.com today, because a smarter Tucson is a better Tucson.
Before the apology, Krieger defended his stance to KYMA:
There is an issue currently in the military with homosexuals serving on the battlefield and I think it's going to be detrimental to men on the battlefield to have that conflict with sexual preference. There's no place for that. There's no place for that. We're in a battle here in America. We're in a war, here in America, and we've been involved in many wars. And we need solid, strong men, not pacifists, to fight those battles.
It was men that landed on Omaha Beach and men that fought in World War One and men who traditionally and historically that did all the fighting in all the wars, women had a supporting role and I don't mean to diminish that, but those men thought fought were a man's man. They had nerves of steel and a back bone and they knew they were fighting for a cause greater than themselves.
The Sun interviewed Yuma gay activist Michael H. Baughman, who assailed Krieger's take on history:
"History records prove Gen. Washington sent Benjamin Franklin to Paris to meet with the openly homosexual Prussian military genius Lt. Gen. Frederick Von Steuben, to ask him to come and train the American troops,” Baughman said.
“Von Steuben arrived at Valley Forge, that cold winter of 1778, with a young French nobleman who was his ‘assistant' and lover ... It is unlikely that Gen. Washington, engaged in founding a nation, had the time or inclination to concern himself with who was sleeping with whom.”
While the mayor has apologized, Baughman believes it is not enough. “It's rather self-serving in some respects and it really doesn't go quite far enough.”
“He is apologizing because he needs to as the mayor, but he has obviously made no effort to really get to know anybody (in the gay community).”