Candidates Silent After Audience Boos Gay Solider During Republican Presidential Debate
The Republican presidential hopefuls gathered in Orlando, Florida last night for the latest GOP debate, which was hosted by Google and Fox News. Host Megyn Kelly singled out Rick Santorum to respond to a YouTube video posted by Stephen Hill, a gay U.S. Army soldier currently deployed in Iraq who said that up until this week’s repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ he’d been forced to “lie about who [he] was” in order to serve the country he loved.
“My question is, under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumvent the progress that’s been for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military,” Hill asked the candidates. Several very loud boos echoed through the debate hall, and none of the candidates so much as uttered a peep about the shockingly overt display of bigotry and disrespect for someone who was risking his life in an immoral war of choice being waged to serve interests championed by most Republicans.
“I would say any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military,” Santorum responded. “The fact they are making a point to include it as a provision within the military that we are going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege to, and removing don’t ask don’t tell. I think tries to inject social policy into the military. And the military’s job is to do one thing: to defend our country.”
Megyn Kelly then pressed Santorum about what he would do with gay soldiers like Hill.
“What we are doing is playing social experimentation with our military right now. That’s tragic,” he answered. “I would just say that going forward we would reinstitute that policy if Rick Santorum was president. That policy would be re-instituted as far as people in, I would not throw them out because that would be unfair to them because of the policy of this administration. But we would move forward in conformity with what was happening in the past. Which was- sex is not an issue. It should not be an issue. Leave it alone. Keep it to yourself whether you are heterosexual or homosexual.”
There are obvious problems with Santorum’s solution. What if a gay Marine wanted to bring his partner to the Marine Corps Ball or marry him in a military chapel? Santorum’s reactionary focus on the sexual aspect of the issue– which is ironic since he says sex should not be an issue, belies the homophobia and bigotry that are the real roots of his objection to LGBT Americans serving openly. That sexual focus also completely ignores the larger issue which is, simply put, one of equality.
But based on the shameful audience reaction to Hill, whose service conservatives would be applauding if it were not for the fact that he’s gay, speaks volumes about the mindset of both your average Republican voter as well as many of the candidates they support.
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