Gay soldier shares reaction to GOP debate boos

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    Nov 19, 2011 8:21 PM GMT
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jh4Z7wLTjWkJWIaG9kgG--Cjz__w?docId=89d40016f3ff4c0389cdf74a6e0fa27f



    APSAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Army Capt. Stephen Hill says he wasn't trying to score political points when he asked the Republican presidential candidates if they would reinstate the ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military.
    He wasn't worried that his debate question, posed via a YouTube video recorded in Iraq, would generate boos or reveal his sexual orientation to millions of people, including his superiors and fellow troops.
    All Hill was thinking about in September was his husband of four-and-a-half months, Joshua Snyder, in Columbus, Ohio.
    Now that "don't ask, don't tell" has been lifted, he needed to know if the military would take the next step and recognize his marriage, or if a new president would try to force soldiers like him back into the closet.
    "I was looking forward to the future and hoping everybody would realize we are soldiers first, always," said Hill, 41, an Army reservist who returned last week from his yearlong deployment. "I was hoping 'don't ask, don't tell' would be a distant memory for everybody."
    In an interview with The Associated Press, Hill reflected publicly for the first time on his reasons for submitting the pre-recorded question for the Sept. 22 debate, as well as his reaction to the heckles heard around the world; the answer that former Sen. Rick Santorum gave to thunderous applause; and the outrage expressed on his behalf by, among others, his commander in chief.
    With Snyder on the telephone, Hill watched the debate live from Iraq at 4 a.m. And this is what he asked: "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?"
    Santorum replied that he would reinstitute the ban on open service by gay troops because "any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military."
    "What we are doing is playing social experimentation with our military right now. That's tragic," he continued. "Leave it alone. Keep it to yourself whether you are heterosexual or homosexual."
    Hill says the fact that he just outed himself on national television had barely registered when he absorbed the boos and Santorum's answer followed by applause.
    "When the actual booing occurred, my gut dropped out, because my first inclination was, did I just do something wrong?" he said. "The answer, obviously, wasn't very supportive of gay people, and there was a lot of fear of how the Army would take the question."
    He did not have to wait long to find out. At breakfast later that morning, the segment was playing on the chow hall television. Hill immediately tracked down his commander, who told him she had no problem with what he'd done but that she would need to run it up the chain of command. She later relayed the response.
    "She said, 'What the military's most concerned with is that you are OK, because it's a lot of pressure on you and we want to make sure if there is anything we can do to help,'" he recalled.
    President Barack Obama, about a week later, chided the Republican contenders for staying silent when several people booed an American soldier. Santorum said he had not heard the booing but condemned the audience members who did it.
    What Hill remembers most was that a presidential candidate defined his marriage and military service in terms of sex. He holds that up against the times he hid Snyder's photograph because Army buddies were coming over to play video games, introduced his husband as his roommate or brother, and the legal vows they exchanged at the grave of Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, who was discharged in 1975 after becoming the first gay service member to challenge the U.S. military's ban on gay troops.
    Snyder and Hill last month joined other same-sex military couples in suing the government for the same benefits as straight military couples, which the Pentagon denies them on grounds that federal law defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
    "This is not about sex," Hill said. "A special privilege is not hiding pictures in my house or God forbid, taking mortar fire again and not knowing if Josh will be recognized. I'm fighting every day to protect everyone's rights as human beings, and it seems counterintuitive for me to be fighting for those rights and not have them."
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    Nov 19, 2011 9:07 PM GMT
    I know these 2 guys (I live in Columbus, too)......the boos hurt....and the GOP contenders demonstrated their true colors, by not condemning and halting the public booing of an active serviceman. Even if you disagree with the politics, it is ALWAYS wrong to disrespect our servicemen.icon_redface.gificon_rolleyes.gificon_eek.gif
  • KissTheSky

    Posts: 1981

    Nov 20, 2011 2:38 AM GMT
    This is a really powerful story.
    What a dramatic contrast of character and courage between this heroic soldier who is risking his life for our country, and the small-minded Republicans who hate on him. I'd love to know how many of the people who cheered the prospect of kicking him out of the military have ever served themselves.
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    Nov 20, 2011 2:39 AM GMT
    DoomsDayAlpaca saidSantorum replied that he would reinstitute the ban on open service by gay troops because "any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military."
    "What we are doing is playing social experimentation with our military right now. That's tragic," he continued. "Leave it alone. Keep it to yourself whether you are heterosexual or homosexual."


    I found Santorum's asinine response much worse than the booing - which was bad enough. Since when is mentioning that you have a loving same-sex spouse, a sexual activity? That would be the case only if we count the wedding bands of service members as a sexual activity.
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    Nov 20, 2011 4:59 AM GMT
    the idea that an Army CAPTAIN would get boo'd is so appalling to me i cant even put it into words. from an active duty point of view, its weird to see an officer in the same struggle as an enlisted person and it puts some thing into a new perspective.
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    Nov 20, 2011 1:41 PM GMT
    Sporty_g saidI know these 2 guys (I live in Columbus, too)......the boos hurt....and the GOP contenders demonstrated their true colors, by not condemning and halting the public booing of an active serviceman. Even if you disagree with the politics, it is ALWAYS wrong to disrespect our servicemen.icon_redface.gificon_rolleyes.gificon_eek.gif


    +1
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    Nov 20, 2011 1:42 PM GMT
    blackstrap saidthe idea that an Army CAPTAIN would get boo'd is so appalling to me i cant even put it into words. from an active duty point of view, its weird to see an officer in the same struggle as an enlisted person and it puts some thing into a new perspective.


    Indeed... not everyone is an "assifficer" as my friends would say.
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    Nov 20, 2011 2:12 PM GMT
    blackstrap saidthe idea that an Army CAPTAIN would get boo'd is so appalling to me i cant even put it into words. from an active duty point of view, its weird to see an officer in the same struggle as an enlisted person and it puts some thing into a new perspective.
    Why would you think a "zero" would have it any easier? The hypocrisy in the o ranks I just couldnt bear.
  • jeepguySD

    Posts: 651

    Nov 20, 2011 3:33 PM GMT
    Capt. Hill seems like a good spokesman, and a good man. Having courageous men like him speak out for gay rights, and against DOMA specifically, must surely help the cause.
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    Nov 20, 2011 4:00 PM GMT
    The fact Santorum answered the question in terms of sexual activity, rather than sexual orientation, shows what a grubby, sordid and ignorant bunch some of these Republicans are, forever pandering to the lowest common denominator.
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    Dec 30, 2013 10:33 PM GMT
    bumped, with an updated LA Times story.

    http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-hidden-man-20131229-dto,0,4485047.htmlstory#axzz2oyclP1M4

    LA Times"I'm a gay soldier and there's been a lot of progress made in the military with the abolishment of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' My question is that under one of your presidencies would you try to change what's been made for progress for gay people in the military?"

    He sends it in and waits. Viewers are allowed to vote on potential questions, and he is informed that his question is a hit. But now YouTube has another, much scarier request:

    Would you consider revealing your identity?

    Hill doesn't need time to consider. There's no chance. He has too much to lose.


    LA TimesHe thinks of the gay recruit he helped drive from the Army. He thinks of the drunk he might have killed. He thinks of how he clawed the pink sticker off his car. He thinks of hiding under the escalator.

    In the subject line of his next email to YouTube, he writes:

    I have reconsidered.


    LA TimesThere are boos. It might be only two or three people in the audience. But everyone will remember it.

    Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum gets the question, and says, "Sexual activity has no place in the military." Allowing gays to serve openly "undermines" America's ability to defend itself. The crowd applauds enthusiastically.

    Seven thousand miles away, before dawn in Iraq, Hill watches in his plywood box. It is not the booing that devastates him but Santorum's response, which frames the whole issue in terms of sex.

    He turns off his TV. Because of the early hour, it is possible most of the soldiers have missed the debate. Somehow, he harbors the hope that he can escape with his anonymity and melt back into the ranks.

    He lines up for breakfast in the chow hall. There are jumbo TVs mounted all over the walls. His face is on every one of them.
  • rnch

    Posts: 11524

    Dec 30, 2013 11:11 PM GMT
    Why anyone who is not an old, angry, homophobic, rich, Pale Males votes for and supports the GOP/TEAbaggers is beyond my comprehension.


    icon_confused.gif
  • The_Guruburu

    Posts: 895

    Dec 30, 2013 11:55 PM GMT
    rnch saidWhy anyone who is not an old, angry, homophobic, rich, Pale Males votes for and supports the GOP/TEAbaggers is beyond my comprehension.


    icon_confused.gif


    Greenbacks. Pure and simple.
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    Dec 30, 2013 11:58 PM GMT
    The_Guruburu said
    rnch saidWhy anyone who is not an old, angry, homophobic, rich, Pale Males votes for and supports the GOP/TEAbaggers is beyond my comprehension.


    icon_confused.gif


    Greenbacks. Pure and simple.


    AKA 'fiscal conservatives'. We've got our own little rump of those here on RJ.
  • MikeW

    Posts: 6061

    Dec 31, 2013 12:43 AM GMT
    dayumm saidbumped, with an updated LA Times story.

    http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-hidden-man-20131229-dto,0,4485047.htmlstory#axzz2oyclP1M4

    Wow, that is a remarkable article and great story. Thanks for sharing this, dayumm, I wouldn't have seen it otherwise! icon_biggrin.gif
  • KissTheSky

    Posts: 1981

    Dec 31, 2013 1:48 AM GMT
    The Republicans booing a soldier in uniform, during a time of war, was probably the lowest I've seen their party sink.
    Has anyone apologized to this soldier? The spineless GOP candidates onstage didn't come to his defense either.
    The GOP is a disgraceful mess.
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    Dec 31, 2013 4:01 AM GMT
    MikeW said
    dayumm saidbumped, with an updated LA Times story.

    http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-hidden-man-20131229-dto,0,4485047.htmlstory#axzz2oyclP1M4

    Wow, that is a remarkable article and great story. Thanks for sharing this, dayumm, I wouldn't have seen it otherwise! icon_biggrin.gif


    My pleasure! icon_biggrin.gif Indeed, a very good article about a brave soul.