American Soldier Booed At GOP Debate
September 23rd, 2011
Frankly, I never thought I’d see the day.
Megyn Kelly: Senator Santorum, this question stirred up a whole lot of controversy online and comes from Stephen Hill, who is a soldier serving in Iraq.
Stephen Hill: In 2010 when I was deployed to Iraq, I had to lie about who I was because I’m a gay soldier and I didn’t want to lose my job. My question is, under one of your presidencies do you intend to circumvent progress that’s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military? [Scattered booing]
Sen. Rick Santorum. Yeah, I would say any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military and the fact that 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 in 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 and that is to defend our country. [Applause] We need to give the military, which is all volunteer, the ability to do so in a way [cheering and applause] that is most efficient and protective of our men and women in uniform and I believe this undermines that ability. [more cheers and applause]
Kelly: So what would you do with soldiers like Stephen Hill? I mean now he’s out. You know, you saw his face on camera. When he first submitted his video to us, it was without his face on camera. Now he’s out. So what would you do as president?
Santorum: I think, it’s… it’s… Look, what we’re doing is playing social experimentation with our military right now, and that’s tragic. I would just say that going forward we would reinstitute that policy if Rick Santorum was President. Period. That policy would be reinstituted, and as far as people who are in it, 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 to what was happening in the past which was sex is not an issue. It should not be an issue. [applause] Leave it alone. Keep it to yourself [applause and cheers] whether you are a heterosexual or a homosexual.
GOP candidates and their spinners in the spin room afterwards were scrambling to characterize the booing as “unfortunate.” But none of the candidates found it necessary to denounce it on stage.
UPDATE: GOProud was perhaps the first out of the gate to demand an apology:
Tonight, Rick Santorum disrespected our brave men and women in uniform, and he owes Stephen Hill, the gay soldier who asked him the question about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, an immediate apology.
“That brave gay soldier is doing something Rick Santorum has never done – put his life on the line to defend our freedoms and our way of life. It is telling that Rick Santorum is so blinded by his anti-gay bigotry that he couldn’t even bring himself to thank that gay soldier for his service.
“Stephen Hill is serving our country in Iraq, fighting a war Senator Santorum says he supports. How can Senator Santorum claim to support this war if he doesn’t support the brave men and women who are fighting it?”