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Friday, October 21, 2016

Republicans Starting to Regret Letting Crowd Boo Gay Soldier

At the last Republican presidential debate, a gay soldier serving in Iraq named Stephen Hill asked candidates whether they would “circumvent the progress that’s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military” by repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” When he finished speaking, the crowd began booing him, and Republicans stayed silent. Rick Santorum, the former governor of Pennsylvania known for his extremely conservative stances on “social issues” like gay rights, answered the soldier’s question, and refused to thank the soldier for his service.

Republicans have since realized it is not in their best interests to disrespect a war veteran — no matter his sexual orientation — and are frantically trying to backtrack. The day after the debate, Santorum went on Fox News to thank Hill for his service and condemn the audience for booing him. On Sunday, presidential candidate Herman Cain explained that “in retrospect,” it would have been “appropriate” for him to speak out against the crowd when they booed Hill.

But Republicans still refuse to take full responsibility for the situation. Santorum claims that he “seriously did not hear those boos” because he was “too focused on the question and formulating [his] answer,” while Cain argues “that maybe they were booing the whole ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal more so than booing that soldier.”

These belated half-apologies are meaningless. The boos were disrespectful, but they’e only a symptom of a much larger problem the Republicans face. The problem is that every Republican presidential candidate has gone on record saying they want to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and force gay soldiers out of the military.

There is no way their desire to expel soldiers from the military who have volunteered to defend their nation and are already fighting overseas can be seen as anything but profoundly disrespectful to both gay and straight soldiers. If Republicans actually valued or respected American soldiers, they would not deny them service just to make a foolish political point.

President Obama made a similar point on Saturday. “You want to be commander in chief?” he 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.”

Hopefully, the attempts to distance themselves from booing a gay soldier indicate that Republicans still have some respect for the military, although we won’t know for sure until one candidate — maybe Romney — finally does the presidential thing and drops his support for the discriminatory and disrespectful policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

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Copyright 2011 The National Memo
  • jussmartenuf

    Thank goodness the backward people who continue to bash people who are Gay simply because they are born that way are a dying breed. Unfortunately this is a religious issue more than an intelligence issue, which causes much of the enlightened religious left to be cast in the same light as the religious right, where learned ignorance is a badge they wear with stupid pride. Pride cometh before the fall.

  • kurt.lorentzen

    Republican’s didn’t “let” people boo a gay soldier. People did that on their own. Last time I checked, freedom of speech was still on the Constitutional menu and no matter how much we despise what another may say, our creed dictates that we allow them to say it. But as far as Ann Coulter goes, that alien thing explains a lot!

  • robbkvasnak

    Yes, those people are free to boo a man serving our country and endangering his life to do so. But the fact that the Republican candidates did not comment on this shows what kind of leaders they would be if elected to the highest office of the land. In reality, freedom of speech is mostly limited to those with the power and money to make themselves heard. What we heard was not only the booing crowd but also a silent “leadership”. In the sense that they pretended not to hear the booing crowd they did indeed “let” them boo.