Booed Soldier Shares His Reaction

Jim Burroway

November 21st, 2011

Capt. Stephen Hill (left) and his partner, Joshua Snyder, at home in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

It was unprecedented in the annals of presidential politics: on September 23, an active-duty American soldier stationed on the front lines was loudly booed by audience members with nary an admonishment from any of the GOP presidential candidates on stage, and none of the Commander-In-Chief wannabees offer a word of thanks for his service. Now nearly two months later, Army Capt. Stephen Hill described to the Associated Press his reaction to that shocking display of disrespect:

“When the actual booing occurred, my gut dropped out, because my first inclination was, did I just do something wrong?” he said. “The answer, obviously, wasn’t very supportive of gay people, and there was a lot of fear of how the Army would take the question.”

He did not have to wait long to find out. At breakfast later that morning, the segment was playing on the chow hall television. Hill immediately tracked down his commander, who told him she had no problem with what he’d done but that she would need to run it up the chain of command. She later relayed the response.

“She said, ‘What the military’s most concerned with is that you are OK, because it’s a lot of pressure on you and we want to make sure if there is anything we can do to help,'” he recalled.

Hill also remembered that Santurum’s answer was solely about sex. Hill, who is married, found Santorum’s answer as adding to the insults.

“This is not about sex,” Hill said. “A special privilege is not hiding pictures in my house or God forbid, taking mortar fire again and not knowing if Josh will be recognized. I’m fighting every day to protect everyone’s rights as human beings, and it seems counterintuitive for me to be fighting for those rights and not have them.”

Capt. Hill and his husband, Joshua Snyder, have joined other same-sex military couples in suing the federal government for the same benefits as straight military couples.

Hunter

November 21st, 2011

The best part of this story is his commander’s response.

There is hope.

PJB863

November 21st, 2011

I have nothing but profound admiration for this man and his spouse. And I have a newly found respect and admiration for the military. Kudos to all of them.

Rob in San Diego

November 21st, 2011

Now here is a true American hero!

Stefan

November 21st, 2011

“I have nothing but profound admiration for this man and his spouse. And I have a newly found respect and admiration for the military. Kudos to all of them.”

Exactly. That is an added bonus to the repeal of DADT. It sends a message of respect, that we are one.

Anne

November 22nd, 2011

I wish I could meet Capt. Hill face to face. If I could, here is what I would say to him:

My husband of almost 40 years died this year because we had no health insurance–one of those “pre-existing conditions” put it out of our reach. And the Tea Party, with their cheering and stamping and whistling at the September CNN debate, let me know loud and clear that they’re happy he’s gone. It’s engendered a terrible anger in me. But at least I had the consolation of having society recognize my loss.

I noticed on that occasion, and on the occasion when you were so mistreated, that none of the candidates had the backbone to rebuke the people who behaved so terribly. That suggests to me that they are spineless and unscrupulous–abandoning all decency and propriety in order to chase the vote.

I am sorry that it happened. I have a suspicion that military people don’t entirely like to be thanked for their service. So I’ll just express my deep respect. My wish for you and your spouse is that you will live in a relationship that is recognized by society for the entire length of your lives together. I will continue to do what I can and to speak up for that right as much as I’m able to do so.

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