Who would heckle a veteran? That’s the question that made jaws drop across America when, at a Republican primary debate in fall 2011, Captain Stephen Hill asked candidates whether they would circumvent the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Hill’s question was played via video submitted from Iraq, where he was serving his country, and members of the audience responded with loud boos. Adding to the insult, none of the candidates on the debate stage at the time condemned the booing.
Rick Santorum was the first candidate to pipe up and answer the question, saying he would reinstate the ban on gays in the military. “Leave it alone. Keep it to yourself whether you are heterosexual or homosexual,” Santorum said, to applause. For Hill, there was a different message in Santorum’s comments, which focused on sex, rather than relationships. Hill told the press, ”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.”
Hill and his husband Joshua Snyder have gone to court for the right to hyphenate their names as a married couple. They are also now plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which is fighting the Defense of Marriage Act to gain equal protections and support to same-sex families from the military. Hill and Snyder are featured in a Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry campaign video highlighting how DOMA hurts military families.
Sign the petition to help repeal DOMA at FreedomToMarry.org. And tune in to “The War Room” tonight at 9 p.m. ET for guest host John Fugelsang’s interview with Stephen Hill.