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THOMAS: Don't ask, don't tell, don't care

People who take polls for a living will tell you that depending on the methodology, the sample, how a question is asked and the understanding of the ones being polled, the outcome can pretty much be predetermined.

If you are dependent on a superior for your job and that superior tells you he wants a certain conclusion reached about a policy he wishes to implement, that, too, can affect the outcome.

Such is the case with President Barack Obama, who has told gay rights groups he intends to end the ‘‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’’ policy and allow homosexuals to serve openly in the military. From the comments by Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, it appears the president’s message has placed their job security above what is best for the military and the country. Many lower-ranking officers do not share their opinion about the effects openly gay service members would have on our military.

The Pentagon poll touted by Gates and Mullen was ‘‘rigged,’’ said a recent editorial in The Washington Times, which noted, ‘‘From the outset, the Pentagon had no interest in eliciting honest responses from the troops about whether the law ... should be preserved or repealed. Instead, soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines were addressed in terms of implying that repeal is inevitable.’’

Furthermore, said the newspaper, ‘‘63 percent of respondents live off-base or in civilian housing and consequently answered that a change in policy might not affect them. Those in combat roles — where unit cohesion and trust are life-and-death concerns — gave a different response.’’

Of all the arguments made by the Obama administration for repealing the law, the one mentioned by Gates is the least defensible. Gates said Congress had better act before the law was ‘‘imposed immediately by judicial fiat.’’ Perhaps Gates should re-read the Constitution, especially the part about the separation of powers. Article 1, Section 8 empowers Congress to make rules for the government and regulate land and naval forces. A National Review Online editorial labeled Gates’ comment, ‘‘... blackmail via judicial imperialism.’’

What is more likely to happen if the policy is reversed is that tens of thousands of those in service will retire or quit. During Senate Armed Services Committee hearings last week, Sen. John McCain, R.-Ariz., cited another Pentagon survey, which found that repealing the ban could create an ‘‘alarming’’ troop retention problem at a time when the military is already shorthanded.

McCain said, ‘‘If 12.6 percent of the military left earlier, that translates into 264,600 men and women who would leave the military earlier than they had planned.’’ McCain wondered if that is a ‘‘good idea in a time of war.’’ The question should answer itself.

Gates and Mullen suggest that the troops can be conditioned into accepting openly gay service members. Would that include chaplains and religious soldiers for whom homosexual behavior is thought to be a sin? Will chaplains be disciplined if they counsel someone who is gay that they can change and be forgiven, just as heterosexuals who engage in sex outside of marriage can also repent and discover a new path? This proposed change in the law has more of a ‘‘fundamentalist’’ tone than fundamentalism. Submit, or else.

Why are we witnessing so many challenges to what used to be considered a shared sense of right and wrong? It is because we no longer regard the Author of what is right. Loosed from that anchor, we drift in a sea of personal ‘‘morality,’’ deciding for ourselves what we want and ought to do and defying anyone who shouts ‘‘wrong way’’ as a fascist imposer of their personal beliefs.

The military is one of our primary national underpinnings. So is marriage. No wonder the gay rights movement seeks to undermine both. There are consequences when foundations are destroyed. The Congress has a duty to save us from the pursuit of our lower nature if we won’t listen to that other voice. If they care.

E-mail nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas at calthomas@tribune.com. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/calthomas.