Friday, September 23, 2011
People For Blog get the pfaw feed No Thanks for Your Service By Miranda | September 23, 2011 - 11:15am The most remarkable moment of last night’s GOP debate came when Stephen Hill, a gay soldier currently in Iraq asked the candidates if they would reinstate the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. The soldier’s video question was met with boos from the audience, and not a single candidate on stage thought to thank him for his service to the country or contradict the audience members who were insulting him. Rick Santorum, who answered the question, went so far as to call the new policy that lets Hill serve openly “tragic.” While the moment was appalling, it was also strangely hopeful. Before this week, Hill would not have been able to ask his question in public, much less on national TV. While before DADT was repealed, Republican leaders could talk about gays and lesbians serving in the military as an abstract concept, they now have to tell gay servicemembers their anti-gay theories to their faces. Santorum’s answer would have come across as hateful in any situation…but saying it to the face of a man currently risking his life in a war zone seemed downright unhuman. And Republicans know that -- in the spin room after the debate, candidates and their spokespeople were quick to condemn the booing and vaguely wish that someone on the stage had stuck up for the soldier. It was a sad display: no amount of post-debate spin can erase the fact that when facing an audience so shockingly disrespectful of a serving member of the armed forces, not one candidate found it worthy of comment. Polls show that one of the most powerful indicators of whether a person will support gay rights is whether that person knows a gay person. Even the strongest prejudices tend to break down when faced with real people with real lives. The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a huge victory for the gay men and women who have been serving our country while being forced to hide who they are. But it’s also a huge step forward for the rights of all gay Americans – if it looks terrible for a presidential candidate to tell a gay soldier that he doesn’t appreciate his service to the country, it also looks pretty bad for him to tell that soldier he can’t get married or be protected from hiring discrimination. The boos directed at Hill made a lot of people, of a lot of political persuasions, gasp. The GOP knows that its anti-gay policies are becoming less and less popular as more and more LGBT people openly and proudly raise children, go to work, go to church, join the military, get married and care for each other in their old age. While the moment last night was sickening, it also exposed in a very stark way the emptiness of the GOP’s anti-gay arguments. me- so far 3 entirely different audiences at the 3 republican debates have- cheered the large number of executions in texas- cheered whistled and called out , "LET HIM DIE!" in response to a hypothetical question about a man with no health insurance that gets cancer and NOW this- booing a gay soldier SERVING IN IRAQ! this is the new republican party- THESE are their candidates!