Florida Rep. Allen West is no stranger to controversial statements, and he is stirring up the hornet's nest once again with his comments about gays in the military.
The Republican West was addressing a friendly conservative crowd in Plant City on Saturday night when he was asked about the eventual lifting of the ban on gays in the military. The former Army colonel responded, according to the Tampa Tribune, "When you take the military and you tell it they must conform to the individual's behavior, then it's just a matter of time until you break down the military."
When someone compared allowing gays to serve openly to allowing blacks in the military, West, who is black, said this:
"Let me explain something to you. I can't change my color. People can change their behavior, but I can't change my color."
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Democrat Patrick Murphy, who is challenging West for his House seat next year, said West's belief that gays can change their behavior shows his "irrational fear of the gay and lesbian community."
As far as his "breaking down the military" comment, Murphy said it is "simply not befitting a congressman, never mind a veteran of the military," according to the Broward-Palm Beach New Times.
"It is hate speech, pure and simple -- and not the kind that voters should tolerate from an elected leader who is clearly showing he lacks the control to lead," Murphy said.