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OPINION

Obama Owes America a Full Debate Before Ending 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

In his post-election press conference earlier this month, President Obama made it clear that despite the drumming his party took at the polls, he was not going to change course.

Among the flawed policies he insists on pursuing is the effort to force open homosexuality on the armed forces before the "lame duck" Congress is scheduled to adjourn on December 3. The nation’s anemic economy will grow weaker if Congress does not act to head off one of the largest tax increases in history. This renewed pledge by the president to use the military to advance a radical social agenda is irresponsible in the face of this top priority.

Ten months ago the president tasked the Pentagon to conduct a study to determine what obstacles would have to be overcome if the ban on open homosexuality in the military is overturned. The report is scheduled to arrive on Capitol Hill on December 1 and the lame duck session is scheduled to end on December 3. Even under optimal circumstances, giving Congress a little over two days to change a fundamental policy that has guided our military for over 200 years shows a reckless disregard for national security.

In 1993 when the current compromise policy was enacted into law, Congress held at least 12 hearings on the topic prior to reaching a decision. In light of mounting concerns over the inaccurate “leaks” about the report and serious questions over the methodology and content of the survey, Congress has an obligation to fully review the Pentagon’s report before taking any action.

In particular, the surveys of service members and their spouses may be just another example of “garbage in/garbarge out.” The questionnaire never asks military respondents or their spouses whether Congress should repeal the 1993 law. It simply assumes the law will be repealed, and asks respondents how they would deal with the consequences.

The Pentagon survey elicited responses from only one quarter of those to whom it was sent. This in itself should be a warning that the survey may not be valid. It’s possible that homosexual service members were over-represented. Also, there may not have been sufficient safeguards to prevent repeat responders to the online chat portion of the survey. One homosexual service member boasted on a gay blog that he had “obtained three different PIN numbers to gain access … as three different people.”

Military spouses were surveyed as well, but this area of the survey is also seriously flawed. The impact this policy change could have on the lives of military families is profound. For example, will children in the Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DoDDS) be taught that homosexuality and same-sex marriage are the same as heterosexuality and marriage between a man and a woman? We have already seen public schools in too many of our communities that have used pro-homosexual policies to force acceptance of the “gay” lifestyle on very young children. These issues were not raised in the survey.

If military bases and military schools become focal points for advancement of the gay agenda, we can expect serious repercussions among the families of the volunteers who make up our armed forces. Will the men and women who serve our country reenlist given the anti-family environment that is likely to be created on military bases?

The military disproportionately draws young recruits from regions of our country that adhere to traditional family values. Will this change in policy enhance military recruitment? It would be the greatest of ironies if this most liberal administration in our history had to re-institute the military draft because they could no longer attract enough volunteers to serve.

The survey also failed to evaluate the impact that overturning the ban would have on military chaplains. Most chaplains are endorsed by orthodox religious institutions that hold to a biblical view of human sexuality which regards homosexual behavior as sinful. Will the chaplains be silenced, not only in their preaching, but in their counseling and family assistance?

Congressional leaders are more than justified in resisting the administration’s drumbeat to overturn this ban in the lame duck session. Because of the far reaching implications on the men and women who serve honorably in our military, the impact upon their families, and ultimately our nation’s security, Congress must hold hearings that are at least as comprehensive as those held when the current policy was adopted.

The only reason the president is pushing for the outgoing lame duck Congress to act is because if the incoming members of Congress exercise their constitutional duty, the president’s attempt to use the military to advance his radical social policy will fail.

Tony Perkins, a Marine Corps veteran, is president of the Family Research Council. Robert Maginnis, a retired lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Army, is FRC's Senior Fellow for National Security.