Rick Santorum's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'
response has been criticized by Service Members Legal Defense Network
(SLDN), the largest group representing LGBT service members.
Stephen Hill, an openly gay Army
soldier serving in Iraq, contributed a YouTube video question to
Thursday's Fox News/Google GOP presidential debate in Orlando,
“Do you intend to circumvent the
progress that has been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the
military?” Hill asked, referring to Tuesday's repeal of “Don't
Ask, Don't Tell,” the military policy that banned gay and bisexual
troops from serving openly.
Hill's video question was booed by the
audience, who were clearly delighted when Santorum
said he would work to reinstate the policy, if elected president.
“No service member defending our
freedoms in Iraq should be booed for expressing his or her views as
an individual,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of SLDN. “I
regret that this brave patriot was not defended last night in Orlando
and that no candidate spoke up to say 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal
has been settled by Congress and our nation's senior military leaders
– and is supported by more than eighty percent of the American
Sarvis said Hill, who is being
represented by SLDN, would have no comment on the matter.
Gay GOP group GOProud also called on
Santorum to apologize: “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.”
R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of
gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans, agreed: “Unfortunately, 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.”