Gays compromise offered

A gay congressman is offering a compromise on permitting homosexuals to legally but quietly serve in the military, conceding that the American public is not ready for President Clinton's move to completely lift the ban on gays in uniform.

Rep. Barney Frank (D) of Massachusetts proposed a solution Tuesday that would allow gay and lesbian service members to do as they please off base as long as they keep their sexual preference secret while on duty.

Faced with strong sentiment against Clinton's proposal in the Senate Armed Services Committee and elsewhere in Congress, Representative Frank said the president didn't have the votes to overturn the existing ban on gays in the military and that he offered a change that could become the standard for years to come, given strong US antigay sentiment.

A White House official said he thought Clinton might be willing to accept the Frank compromise, especially if Sen. Sam Nunn (D) of Georgia, chairman of the armed services panel and an opponent of lifting the ban, agreed to it.

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