Sex, race, and the Republican presidential campaign
Rick Perry is under fire for the racial slur that was the name of his family’s hunting camp. Meanwhile, all the GOP presidential candidates are being asked why they didn't stop the booing when a gay soldier raised "don't ask, don't tell" at their recent debate.
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During the most recent GOP debate, some of the audience booed when Stephen Hill, a US Army soldier serving in Iraq, asked via a YouTube clip whether the candidates would try to reinstate the “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) policy banning openly gay servicemen and women from serving in the armed forces.
“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,” Hill said. “My question is: under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumvent the progress we’ve made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?”
That was the point at which boos and hisses could be heard in the audience – taken by many advocates and analysts as an insult to many Americans serving voluntarily in wartime.
Since then, the candidates and others have seen the problem with allowing to stand that response to a serving soldier.
Rick Santorum, who’d jumped right in to declare that he would reinstate DADT, later told Fox News, “I condemn the people who booed that gay soldier.”
“That soldier is serving our country, I thank him for his service to our country,” Santorum said. “I’m sure he’s doing an excellent job. I hope he is safe, and I hope he returns safely, and does his mission well.”
“The fact is, we should honor every man and woman who is serving in the military and should in no way treat them with anything but the highest regard,” McCain said.
On ABC's "This Week" Sunday, Herman Cain said he regretted not having spoken up on the soldier’s behalf. "In retrospect, because of the controversy it has created and because of the different interpretations that it could have had … that would have been appropriate."
For his part President Obama saw the episode as an opportunity to needle his Republican challengers.
At the annual Human Rights Campaign fundraising dinner Saturday night he said, “We don't believe in the kind of smallness that says it's okay for a stage full of political leaders – one of whom could end up being the president of the United States – being silent when an American soldier is booed.”
“You want to be commander in chief?” Obama asked. “You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it's not politically convenient.”