General Colin Powell, meeting with Bill Clinton and Al Gore two months after they were elected in 1992, expressed reservations about allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military.
The Joint Chief chairman's statements, as well as those of the president and vice president, were among records the National Archives released Friday. The material previously had been classified.
Politico described the conversation as "a frank and spirited exchange" regarding candidate Clinton's promise to end the ban on gays in the military. The website noted that the officials' remarks demonstrate how attitudes toward homosexuality have changed in the past 20 years.
During the Jan. 25, 1993, meeting, Powell said comparing discrimination against African-Americans with restrictions on gays was "off-base." He maintained that race is a "benign characteristic," while "sexuality is different."
Powell explained that his opposition to gays in the armed forces was based not on a "moral judgment," but on the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He suggested that homosexuals "can best serve in other areas."
Clinton responded: "I believe some are born gay and others not. The job of society is not to discriminate on the basis of moral judgment. It's my belief gay friends should be able to serve,".
Photo: New York Daily News
Powell believed discrimination based on race was different then discriminating based on sexual preference.