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Audience jeers gay soldier, applauds anti-gay Santorum during GOP debate

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Audience members at Thursday night’s GOP presidential debate booed a gay soldier who asked if the Republican candidates would reinstate the now repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that banned openly gay service members.

Stephen Hill

In a video submission, Stephen Hill told the candidates that he “had to lie about who he was” when he was deployed to Iraq in 2010 because of his sexual orientation.

“My question is, under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumvent the progress that’s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?” Hill asked, which was met by jeers from many in the Orlando audience.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) responded that “any type of sexual activity has no place in the military” and said the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” injected “social experimentation” into the military.

“I would just say that going forward we would re-institute that policy if Rick Santorum was president,” he said.

Santorum said the military has one responsibility: protecting the country, and that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly is a distraction to that role. His response garnered loud applause.

Watch:

Reaction to Santorum’s response has been swift.

In a joint statement, GOProud Board Chairman Christopher R. Barron and Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia said Santorum owed Hill an “immediate 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.”

The Log Cabin Republicans issued this statement:

“Senator Santorum’s shameful response to the combat soldier’s question regarding open service was incoherent and out of touch. America’s uniformed leaders support gays and lesbians serving alongside their colleagues with dignity and respect. Santorum’s divisive and homophobic remarks do not befit a commander-in-chief,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director.

“For many Americans the take-away from last night’s debate was not that Republicans have the solutions our country needs, but that too many in our party are clinging so strongly to a failed and discriminatory law that they are willing to disrespect a man in uniform. As a current Army Reserve officer and an Iraq combat veteran, I found it appalling that a soldier serving down range would be disrespected in such a fashion.”

None of the other eight candidates participating in the debate were asked to respond to Hill’s question, and all remained silent during the audience jeers.

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55 more reader comments:

  1. This is shameful!

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 9:40pm
  2. Shameful, yes, but that is the type of person that would voluntarily go to listen to these people speak.

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 9:43pm
  3. The GOP debate, a pep rally for shitty people.

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 9:44pm
  4. shame on them!

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 9:44pm
  5. Excellent question. Dreadful response. Unqualified candidates for President.

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 9:44pm
  6. These people are scary as hell!

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 9:44pm
  7. Dammirt it all too hell.

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 9:44pm
  8. Things like this truly disgust me. I can’t understand how people could act in such a way. This has nothing to do with keeping sex out of the military and everything to do with bigotry.

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 9:49pm
  9. Boo

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 9:55pm
  10. The GOP is stupid is stupid. They say that sex should be kept separate and to themselves but it’s really sexual orientation. All they want is power and conformity. This country is all about change and for the Better and we must progress as a whole nation and soldiers should not be discharged due to their sexual orientation.

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 9:55pm
  11. Santorum and every other fool like him disgust me. Usually, I try not to let these things get to me, but fuck it… We, as a community, have been put down for far too long. And this jackass has the gall to speak poorly of those of us who have served and continue to serve in the military. Disgusting, putrid little man. I never wish misfortune upon another living being, but I am so very tempted to do so right now. Hate is contagious, unfortunately. It corrupts the minds and souls of people…and I absolutely cannot allow myself to stoop down to this hateful man’s level.

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 9:56pm
  12. that army soldier ask a simple question but all the candidate was talk trash about gay soldiers. I will not have a candidate for President if they are targeting one group because we are not like them.

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 9:56pm
  13. KEEP AMERICA FREE…FOLKS NEED TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THE 14 AMEND. PROMISES…

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 10:00pm
  14. what the fuck?

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 10:00pm
  15. I refuse to vote because of all the jackasses we have as candidates.

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 10:00pm
  16. even if they dont like gays they should show respect for,the fact hes a solidier

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 10:04pm
  17. they want him to apologize…… hey, he’s a pimple

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 10:04pm
  18. Persecution of gays is just the tip of the iceberg for dudes like this! Eventually they will target EVERYONE who is different from them! We cannot keep our heads down ANY LONGER!!!!! Aren’t we all tired of eating shit politely with a spoon????

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 10:05pm
  19. Sick, sick! We are in a world of hurt if the Douche Baggers get elected. Laugh at the uninsured dying, boo Gay Heros. It’s the WWE, reality show fed “citizens” spitting up what they’ve been fed.

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 10:11pm
  20. Unforgivable… jeering at a man who put his life on the line to protect the very people who would deny him his basic, fundamental rights to be who he is. Damn the Republicans…

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 10:17pm
  21. He’s nothing but a homophobic piece of crap. How dare they spew such hatred.

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 10:19pm
  22. I actually started screaming at the TV. It was truly horrific listening to that audience cheer at the hatred.

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 10:23pm
  23. This made me ill.

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 10:28pm
  24. Sick bastards all of them! Nobody with an “R” next to their name will EVER get my vote!

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 10:38pm
  25. I can’t believe anyone who is a proud American who boo a soldier….seriously…..That person deserves 2 be smacked….A SOLDIER IS A SOLDIER no matter what his/her sexual orientation…

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 10:44pm
  26. sex is part of life…. it is already active in the military….reproductive sex that is……pure bigotry!

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 10:49pm
  27. Holy crap! Thank God I live in Canada! I salute you in the U.S. For putting up with all that poop soldier or not! So much hatred for a country that prides itself on being the land of the free!

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 10:54pm
  28. I didn’t watch because I knew if I did, I’d get pissed off and scream at the TV. That idiocy is all they needed on top of cheering for uninsured people to die. Most of them are cheering for their own throats to be cut. And furthermore, if what was up on that platform is Christianity, then I’ll gladly be an atheist. I can trust an atheist, I know some wonderful ones.

    Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 11:39pm
  29. I am not American but my recently announced girlfriend is (on the same day as the repeal of DADT). I can’t understand why the politicians are allowed to say such things without huge backlashes and forced resignations. =\

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 1:17am
  30. That’s outrageous and disrespectful on alarming levels. Did he ever stop to think that this gay soldier lied about his own identity and risked his life in order to protect men like him? This attitude makes me sick. I want to see Rick out on that battlefield having to do the same. Perhaps we’ll see a change of attitude towards our brave ones.

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 2:41am
  31. What did we expect from classless Repucklicans!!!!

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 2:44am
  32. I don’t think anyone would be very sad if the Earth opened up under the next GOP debate and swallowed all the candidates and audience members whole.

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 4:19am
  33. Choice is wonderful thing – thank goodness we can choose NOT to support hate mongers…

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 4:26am
  34. I agree with Skylar, put their asses out there fighting for this country and see if the sexuality of the soldier fighting next to them really matters. Who fought for their freedoms, gay or straight it don’t fuckin matter. It is sad when you put your life on the line for a country that treats you like shit.

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 4:28am
  35. This is fucking disgusting.

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 4:55am
  36. These tea baggers are scum bags and should go back to living in a cave. If they believed in evolution they might just do that ad we would all be happy.. !

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 5:03am
  37. How shameful! Gay or not, these Tea Partiers should be showing this soldier a little respect! I was interested in watching a live GOP debate since I’m into poltics, but not anymore!

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 5:31am
  38. Would they have been so quick to boo if the soldier had been there in person? Bigots AND cowards

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 5:44am
  39. And the definition of Santorum is…still very accurate.

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 5:50am
  40. I am completely ashamed of my fellow “human” beings watching and jeering at the GOP debate….. exemplifying the height of hypocrisy of their supposed patriotism with this shameful act….. not one person spoke up for our brave soldier fighting for our freedoms…. NOT ONE. It is soul crushing and they are setting a horrible example for the youth of our country of compassion, tolerance, acceptance, bullying, and basic human dignity…

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 5:54am
  41. He’s an idiot!! Does he not see the whole purpose of the repeal?? There were no “privileges” given to or taken away from anyone! Now that it has been repealed, it shows that the military is even less concerned with sexuality than before. It shows that they don’t care what sexuality a soldier is at all!! NOw soldiers can focus on actually being a soldier instead of hiding their personal lives. How are there that many people who can’t think for themselves in one place??

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 7:56am
  42. Ah, the American people, as reputable as ever.

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 8:22am
  43. This on the heels of the suicide of Jayme Rodemeyer. These people are monstrously evil. I will never understand them.

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 8:51am
  44. if sexuality isn’t supposed to be part of the military then why were people being KICKED OUT of the military for being day – hypocrites

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 8:51am
  45. wow they have no right they are not in the military its a family and you don’t mess with family, we don’t care if you’re gay just do your job. Gay and proud to serve my country Oohrah SeaBees !!!

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 9:02am
  46. Imagine the all the additional support the GOP would receive if they weren’t such fucking bigots.

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 9:09am
  47. Special privileges? Really?! To what? Serve openly and with dignity? As appalling as this distorted rhetoric is and as nauseating as Santorum’s smug heterosexism and the crowd’s response, what I find most chilling is Santorum’s blithe unwillingness to consider the human costs of what he’s proposing. This utter lack of empathy should raise alarm. I fear for the future of this country should he (or any of his GOP cohorts, frankly) actually win. ::shudder::

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 9:13am
  48. WTF IS THIS CRAP?!?!?!?!? THIS IS WORSE THEN THE SECOND SEASN OF STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION D:

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 11:14am
  49. What….?

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 1:04pm
  50. I served for 5 years in the Army and even though Don’t ask Don’t tell was still in place we all knew each other like family so most of the time we knew who was dating who. It didn’t bother most of us we were all soldiers, we all went though the same thing and in combat the only time our sexual orientation was even alluded to was when we talked about home and who we missed. This is just disgraceful, I was no better a soldier just because I’m heterosexual than any any homosexual soldier we were all doing the same job and taking the same risks.

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 1:15pm
  51. Support our troops! Rah, rah, rah, oh, except for the gay ones.

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 2:24pm
  52. Does Santorum seriously promote the idea that heterosexuals are not bringing sexuality into the military?!? As though one ceases to be a human being? Maybe I don’t understand soliders….

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 2:29pm
  53. Amazing! Some how the republicans turn the question into sex! The question wasn’t even about sex! Why does it turn into sex?! I don’t understand these people!

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 3:44pm
  54. Wow I bet they were all christian too…so Christ-like

    Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 8:41pm
  55. To Tom Rominger: No, my friend, those people are not true Christians. Christ – who said nothing about being gay – would probably have a pointed parable to show them their hypocrisy.

    One heartening thing was it seemed to me that only a small section of the audience jeered the gay soldier; I supsect that many of those present disagreed with the jeering. (I hope to God I’m right). Regardless, it was a shameful act and I wonder just how many of those loud mouths would have the courage to join the military. As for Santorum’s comment about keeping sexual things to yourself in the military – it shows real ignorance.

    Posted on Sunday, September 25, 2011 at 7:39am