After Initially Skirting Queries about Homosexuality, Clinton and Obama Defend Its Morality

ABC News' Teddy Davis, Jonathan Greenberger, and Eloise Harper Report: Two leading Democratic presidential candidates -- Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.. -- offered statements Thursday maintaining that they do not think homosexuality is immoral. The Clinton and Obama clarifications came one day after the two senators skirted separate queries from journalists on the morality of homosexuality in the wake of comments from Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling homosexual acts immoral.

"Well I've heard from a number of my friends and I've certainly clarified with them any misunderstanding that anyone had, because I disagree with General Pace completely. I do not think homosexuality is immoral," Clinton told Bloomberg News Thursday.

Clinton framed her Thursday comments to Bloomberg News as a clarification of a Wednesday "misunderstanding," of her remarks in an interview with ABC News. During that interview, she was asked about Pace's comments several times and did not defend homosexuality’s morality, preferring instead to focus strictly on her opposition on the U.S. military's "Don’t Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

In her Wednesday interview with ABC News' Jake Tapper, Clinton said: "Well, I’m going to leave that to others to conclude" when asked if homosexuality is "immoral."

Obama's Thursday clarification came in a written statement issued from his press secretary Bill Burton. 

". . . I do not agree with General Pace that homosexuality is immoral," Obama said in his written statement. "Attempts to divide people like this have consumed too much of our politics over the past six years."

Obama's Thursday statement comes one day after he seemed to skirt questions about the morality of homosexuality from Newsday.

As he was leaving the Hyatt Regency hotel in Washington, D.C., Obama was asked several times by a Newsday reporter if he thought homosexuality was "immoral."

Obama avoided answering the question about the morality of homosexuality and spoke instead about the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, underscoring his support for gays and lesbians serving openly in the U.S. military. He did take issue with Pace’s decision to venture beyond military affairs in his interview with the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board.

"I think traditionally the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman has restricted his public comments to military matters," Obama said Wednesday. "That’s probably a good tradition to follow."

Asked on Wednesday to comment on Pace’s characterization of homosexuality as "immoral," Obama said: "I think that the question here is if someone is willing to sacrifice for their country they should be able to."

The Thursday clarifications from Clinton and Obama came after members of their staff came under pressure from a leading advocate for gay rights.

"I spent the whole morning talking with these campaigns and telling them that they needed to issue a clear, unequivocal answer to this question," Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign told ABC News. "And as you can see, they’ve done that."

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