The audience stole the show yet again at a Republican debate. The most cringe-worthy moment of last night's event came when the crowd booed a gay soldier serving overseas in Iraq.
Soldier Stephen Hill posed a question via YouTube to Rick Santorum, addressing the repeal of DADT. Hill said he's had to "lie about who [he] was" just to serve, and wondered if candidates would "circumvent" progress that's been made on LGBT rights in the military. Jeers could then be heard throughout the auditorium in Florida.
Santorum mumbled something about how the DADT repeal injected "social engineering" into the military. He just breezed right over it, and he wasn't alone. You could practically hear crickets chirping in that auditorium — candidates just stood silent and did not respond.
Right after the debate, Jon Huntsman, perhaps the most moderate candidate out of the Republican crop, called the boos "unfortunate." And a rep for Rick Perry one-upped that response, saying it was "very unfortunate." Unfortunate indeed.
Santorum, let's be honest — not a gay-friendly candidate, today said he didn't hear the boos at the time and expressed disappointment. "I condemn the people who booed that gay soldier," said Santorum. "That soldier is serving our country, I thank him for his service to our country. I'm sure he's doing an excellent job. I hope he is safe, and I hope he returns safely, and does his mission well."
This scene had me missing Republican nominee John McCain in 2008 — at least he had the guts to correct one misguided little old lady, who said she couldn't "trust Obama" because "he's an Arab."
Show some guts, GOP. The soldiers — both gay and straight — who are fighting our wars certainly do.