The blatant display of disrespect for an active duty American soldier by Republican audience members followed by Rick Santorum’s controversial, crowd pleasing reply, captured the essence of the Fox News Republican Debate Thursday night.
Currently stationed in Iraq, soldier Stephen Hill asked, “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… Under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumvent the progress that have been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?”
On the heels of a resounding “boo” from a number of audience members, Santorum declared:
“I would say any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military. 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…”
When asked by host Megan Kelly how he would handle soldiers such as Stephen Hill, Santorum pronounced, “What we are doing is playing social experimentation with our military right now. That’s tragic. 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.”
Gay rights group GOProud called Rick Santorum for apology, RawStory reports. The advocates proclaim:
“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.”
No official word of an apology has been issued at this time, although John Huntsman and a representative of Rick Perry both echoed the term “unfortunate” to describe the homophobic, unpatriotic chain of events.