23:59 | 23rd April 2019

News: World

Wed 25 Aug, 2010
By Sam Bristowe

I can tell you that an overwhelming majority would like not to be roomed with a person who is openly homosexual

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US Marines wouldn't want gay roommate

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The top US Marine on Tuesday said most Marines would prefer not to share a room with gay comrades, despite plans by President Barack Obama to lift a ban on gays serving openly in the military.

General James Conway, who has made clear his opposition to ending the ban, said if the law is changed the Marine Corps might look for volunteers willing to share quarters with gays as some "very religious" members objected to rooming with homosexuals.

"I can tell you that an overwhelming majority would like not to be roomed with a person who is openly homosexual," Conway told a Pentagon press conference.

"Some do not object.

And perhaps, you know, perhaps a voluntary basis might be the best way to start without violating anybody's sense of moral concern or a perception on the part of their mates," he said.

He added that "in some instances we will have people that say that homosexuality is wrong and they simply do not want to room with a person of that persuasion because it would go against their religious beliefs."

Conway has made no secret of his views on lifting the ban on openly gay troops and his remarks will likely be seized on by opponents of the move in Congress.

Unlike other US military services, the Marines assign members a roommate to share living quarters.

The general, who is due to retire in the fall, said if the ban is lifted the Marine Corps would obey the law and carry out the change without delay.

"There will be 100 issues out there that we have to solve if the law changes in terms of how we do business, and we cannot be seen as dragging our feet or in some way delaying implementation," he said.

Asked why opposition to ending the ban seemed to be stronger in the Marine Corps, Conway said it was unclear but that "we recruit a certain type of young American, a pretty macho guy or gal, that is willing to go fight and perhaps die for their country."

The House of Representatives has voted to abolish the law and the repeal now needs approval from the Senate, which could take up the bill soon.

Under a White House-supported compromise, if the repeal were to pass Congress, the new policy would not be put in place until the Pentagon completed a review of the issue later this year.

More than 13,500 service members have been dismissed under the law since it was adopted in 1993.

Some 78 percent of Americans say gays should be allowed to serve in the military, according to a recent CNN/Opinion Research poll.


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