Gay soldier shares reaction to boos at Republican presidential debate

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

US Army Captain Stephen Hill, who hit the headlines, after he suffered verbal abuse from audience members at a Republican presidential debate, has spoken about the ordeal for the first time to the Associated Press.

Hill, 41, an openly gay army reservist from Ohio, has recently returned from serving in Iraq.

On September 22nd, a pre-recorded You Tube clip of Hill asking a question, from his base in Iraq, about the removal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law was played to the Republican presidential candidates at a Fox News debate in Florida.

Following the repeal of the ban on openly gay troops, Hill wanted to know if any of the presidential hopefuls would restore the homophobic law as Commander-in-Chief.

After the question was broadcast, several audience members began booing and heckling Hill.

Presidential contender and former senator Rick Santorum gave his response by criticising President Obama for signing the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Santorum also declared that he would bring back the ban because “any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military”.

He added, “what we are doing is playing social experimentation with our military right now. That’s tragic”.

Several other GOP candidates, including former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, also attacked the repeal.

None of the contenders condemned the behaviour of the audience members which was widely seen to be disrespectful to a serving officer.

Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney later said that they had failed to hear the boos.

However, Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, whose son has served in the US military, later said the behaviour was “reprehensible”.

When the heckling began, Hill said his “gut dropped” because he feared possible repercussions with his military bosses,
although, they were quick to offer him support.

The soldier claims he wasn’t trying to score political points with the question.

He says it was as much for his husband of four and half months, Joshua Snyder.

Last month, the couple joined several other same-sex military couples in suing the US Government.

They are demanding the same benefits as straight military couples.

The Pentagon currently denies this on the grounds that Federal law defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.