Leading House Democrat says military should keep ban on gays to avoid talk of homosexuality

WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday said he thinks the military should keep its ban on openly gay service members in part because he doesn't want to open a national discussion about homosexuality.

Rep. Ike Skelton, a conservative Missouri Democrat, said he thinks the debate in Congress over the proposed repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" law might force families to explain homosexuality to their children.

"What do mommies and daddies say to their 7-year-old child?" Skelton asked reporters during a media breakfast.

Gay rights groups argue that the United States is much more comfortable talking about homosexuality than in the past.

The House voted 234-194 last month to overturn the 17-year-old law. Skelton was among the 26 Democrats who joined 168 Republicans in opposing the bill.

Skelton told reporters that no one in his district has raised the issue with him, but he says he still doesn't think the discussion is family-friendly enough.

"My biggest concern are the families," he said.