Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who participated in a Republican presidential debate in Florida last week, said the treatment of a gay soldier asking a question about “don’t ask, don’t tell” was “totally unfortunate and unnecessary.”
Active-duty soldier Stephen Hill, serving in Iraq, recorded a question on YouTube asking, “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. 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?”
A few members of the audience in the Orange County Convention Center began booing after the question was asked.
Candidate Rick Santorum said, “Yeah. I would say that any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military.” He also stated he would reinstate the DADT policy.
Santorum was blasted by conservative gay leaders.
Gay conservative group GOProud issued a statement blasting Santorum.
“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 DADT 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.
Stephen Hill is serving our country in Iraq, fighting a war Senator Santorum says he supports. How can Senator Santorum claim to support this war if he doesn’t support the brave men and women who are fighting it?”
Santorum claims not to have heard the boos, as have several other candidates on the stage.
Huntsman seemed to agree with GOProud.
“When someone in uniform asks a question of a panelist in this case, the first response should be thanking the soldier for his or her service,” Huntsman told ABC News. “We all wear the same uniform in America. We all salute the same flag I have two boys starting their journey in the U.S military. We should take more time to thank them for their service as opposed to finding differences based on background or orientation.”
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson expressed embarrassment.
“That’s not the Republican Party that I belong to,” he said.