A leading group lobbying for repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” has called objections to repeal by retired chaplains a “red herring.”

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) responded to the chaplains' argument that repeal of the law that bans gay troops from serving openly would force them to choose between serving God and the U.S. armed forces.

The retired chaplains argue that repeal of the law could lead to a chaplain preaching against being gay to conceivably be disciplined as a bigot under the military's nondiscrimination policy, the AP reported.

Sixty-five former chaplains have written to President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates urging them to keep the the law in place. Obama says he objects to the law, but is appealing a court case that found the law unconstitutional because the wants it ended legislatively.

“Many (if not most) chaplains will confront a profoundly difficult moral choice: whether they are to obey God or to obey men,” they wrote in the letter dated September 16.

A majority of the 3,000 chaplains on active duty are from religious faiths that oppose being gay or sex between members of the same sex, including the Southern Baptist Convention, the Roman Catholic Church, the Full Gospel Pentecostal church, and the Assemblies of God.

SLDN, however, called the argument a “red herring.”

“The military already recognizes that the bottom line is the religious needs of a religiously diverse population of service members,” said Paul W. Dodd, a U.S. Army retired chaplain, in a statement released Saturday by the group. “For a person to be considered for appointment as a military chaplain, a chaplain must agree that he or she is willing to function in a pluralistic environment and is willing to support directly and indirectly the free exercise of religion by all members of the military.”

“Military chaplains are required to serve a religiously diverse population, which holds different views on many things, including gender, race, other religions, and sexual orientation. This does not mean, of course, that the military chaplain must abandon his or her personal beliefs. Nor does it mean that the chaplain must modify his or her spiritual message when conducting a denomination-specific service.”

“All chaplains will continue the historic tradition of securing the free exercise of religion for all our troops,” he added.

Included in the Defense Department's report on how to end the law – due December 1 – is an internal survey on attitudes in the military on the policy. According to details leaked to NBC News, the survey will show that most troops are not concerned about serving and living alongside openly gay troops.