COMMENTARY: Rick Santorum’s homophobic comments show why he is unfit to be President

Why anyone believes Rick Santorum is qualified to run for President of the United States has always been a mystery, but his homophobic response to a gay soldier’s video question shows why he is unfit to be elected to the highest office in the land.

Santorum, the former Senator from Pennsylvania who was tossed out of office by his own constituents tired of his flame-throwing rhetoric and political positions to the right of Genghis Khan, is one of a long line of Republican presidential candidates who are openly anti-gay.

During the Fox News Presidential Debate in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday night for GOP presidential hopefuls, Santorum showed his true colors of hate. Read the transcript yourself:

QUESTION via YouTube from Stephen Hill, a soldier who's currently serving in Iraq: 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?

(END OF GAY SOLDIER’S VIDEO CLIP)

(BOOING)

SANTORUM: Yeah, I — I would say any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military. And the fact that they're making a point to include it as a provision within the military that we are going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege to -- to -- and removing "don't ask/don’t tell" I think tries to inject social policy into the military. And the military's job is to do one thing, and that is to defend our country.

We need to give the military, which is all-volunteer, the ability to do so in a way that is most efficient at protecting our men and women in uniform.

(APPLAUSE)

And I believe this undermines that ability.

(APPLAUSE)

MEGYN KELLY of Fox News: So what -- what -- what would you do with soldiers like Stephen Hill? I mean, he's — now he's out. He's — you know, you saw his face on camera. When he first submitted this video to us, it was without his face on camera. Now he's out. So what would you do as President?

SANTORUM: I think it's -- it's -- it's -- look, what we're doing is playing social experimentation with -- with our military right now. And that's tragic.
I would -- I would just say that, going forward, we would -- we would reinstitute that policy, if Rick Santorum was President, period.

That policy would be reinstituted. And as far as people who are in -- in -- I would not throw them out, because that would be unfair to them because of the policy of this administration, but we would move forward in -- in conformity with what was happening in the past, which was, sex is not an issue. It is -- it should not be an issue. Leave it alone, keep it -- keep it to yourself, whether you’re a heterosexual or a homosexual.

Twitter and Facebook lit up like a Christmas tree by many people who were deeply offended by Santorum’s remarks.

SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis was highly critical of the way the soldier was treated by the audience.

“No servicemember defending our freedoms in Iraq should be booed for expressing his or her views as an individual,” Sarvis said.

“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 80% of the American people. The servicemember will have no comment on this matter and has referred all inquiries to Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.”

Officials with Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) said they were disgusted at the response to a question by an openly gay servicemember regarding “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during the GOP presidential debate.

“Sen. Santorum's shameful response to the combat soldier's question regarding open service was incoherent and out of touch. America's uniformed leaders support gays and lesbians serving alongside their colleagues with dignity and respect. Santorum's divisive and homophobic remarks do not befit a commander-in-chief,” said R. Clarke Cooper, LCR executive director.

“Americans want to hear about how our next President is going to cut our national debt, present a confident foreign policy and most importantly help the private sector thrive to create jobs. 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,” he said.

“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," Cooper said.

Even GOProud, the far-right fringe group within the Republican Party, blasted Santorum and demanded an apology in a statement released to the media.

“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,” the group said in a statement attributed to Christopher R. Barron, the group’s chairman of the board, and Jimmy LaSalvia, its executive director. “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?”

SDGLN joins the voices who are condemning Santorum and the anti-gay audience, and shaming every single GOP debater on Thursday night who remained silent as homophobia reared its ugly head. We know that not all Republicans are anti-gay or even against the DADT repeal, but you would not know that by watching the debate.

The Republican Party has been hijacked by the far-right agenda of the Tea Party members, who fancy themselves are patriots but are revealing themselves to be intolerant, homophobic and bigoted. And it is clear that the moderate and progressive Republicans are being pushed to the sideline, where they are suffering in silence. The onetime Grand Old Party is anything but that these days, becoming the political party representing hate and intolerance.




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