FIRST-PERSON: Don't weaken 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

WASHINGTON (BP)--Recently President Obama hosted a gathering of homosexual leaders in the East Room where previous presidents celebrated the National Day of Prayer. "Welcome to our White House," was his greeting to enthusiastic applause.

The crowd got quieter as the president addressed his administration's lack of progress on the homosexual lobby's key demands. "There are unjust laws to overturn and unfair practices to stop," he told them. He alluded, in particular, to the Defense of Marriage Act, which he committed to reversing. But "as commander in chief in a time of war," Obama asked the group for patience in changing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding homosexuals in the military.

The very next day, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told reporters he's considering ways to make that policy "more humane" towards homosexuals. He said, "One of the things we're looking at is, is there some flexibility in how we apply this law?" But the law regarding gays in the military has already been twisted almost beyond recognition. It clearly states that homosexuals are not eligible for military service. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which reaffirmed existing policy, passed Congress in 1993 and has been upheld by federal courts as constitutional several times. At the time President Clinton proposed a different law in which homosexuals could serve in the military as long as they didn't say they were homosexual. Congress wisely rejected this.

Secretary Gates' idea is to figure out how to "flex" the system to allow open homosexuals to serve until Congress actually overturns federal law. President Obama has asked Congress to pass, and send to his desk, H.R.1283, which would allow open homosexuality in the military. But there's a reason Congress has not taken this up. Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council believes that the "American public isn't there" yet. Neither are a majority of active duty military polled last year by the Military Times. Fifty-eight percent oppose efforts to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." To the question on how they would respond if homosexuals were allowed to serve openly, 10 percent said "I would not re-enlist or extend my service" while another 14 percent said "I would consider not re-enlisting or extending my service."

Secretary Gates floated a situation in which he'd like to make the policy "less restrictive."

"Do we need to be driven when the information, to take action on somebody, if we get that information from somebody who may have vengeance in mind or blackmail or somebody who has been jilted?" he asked.

But to give the "jilted" party a break completely violates the spirit of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." If someone has been jilted, they haven't exactly kept their homosexuality under wraps. A member of the military who is the object of an unwanted advance and complains to a superior, should, under current law, expect a remedy. But Gates wondered to reporters, "If somebody is outed ... by a third party, does that force us to take action?"

Under the current law, it does. But, in this hypothetical Gates military, the homosexual hitting on another soldier becomes the victim. The one who outs him is the bad guy. If the young men and women serving our country have no recourse against unwanted homosexual advances, trust and unit cohesion will be broken. Fewer young people will volunteer for military service. Or their parents will refuse to send them.

The president told his East Room audience, "There are still fellow citizens, perhaps neighbors or even family members and loved ones, who still hold fast to worn arguments and old attitudes." He's talking about those of us who cherish biblical truth that calls homosexual behavior sin.

There is no constitutional right to serve in the military. Those who serve subjugate many rights in order to advance national security. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," though far from ideal, requires homosexuals in the military to conceal their orientation and control their behavior to keep good order. We should strongly oppose using our armed forces for a misguided social experiment by allowing open homosexual practice in the military.


Penna Dexter is a conservative activist and frequent panelist on "Point of View" syndicated radio program. Her weekly commentaries air on the Bott and Moody Radio Networks. She also serves as a consultant for KMA Direct Communications in Plano, Texas.

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