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Boos Heard At GOP Debate After Gay Soldier Asks About 'Don't Ask'

Read and listen to the reaction from some in the audience at last night's Republican presidential debate after a video question from Stephen Hill, a gay soldier who Fox News said is serving in Iraq. The question was directed to former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and here is Fox News' transcript:

Hill: "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?"

(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)

Moderator Megyn Kelly: "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."

GOProud.org, which "represents gay conservatives and their allies," says Santorum owes the soldier an apology. The Hill's Ballot Box blog notes that none of the candidates on stage said anything about the handful of boos that were heard after Hill's video question was played.

At the Sept. 12 GOP debate in California, some eyebrows were raised when Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) was asked a question about whether someone who deliberately chose not to purchase health insurance should be allowed to die, and someone in the audience shouted "Yeah!"

For more on last night's debate, our colleague Frank James at It's All Politics says the front runner, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, had a "long, hard night." And on Morning Edition, NPR's Mara Liasson reported that the exchanges between Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney over Social Security, health care and immigration were among the evening's highlights.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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