FORT MYERS, Fla. - A response to a question asked at last night's G.O.P. debate has a lot of people talking. And it wasn't necessarily the response coming from the podium, but from the crowd.
In a debate on The FOX News Channel, the topic of Don't Ask, Don't Tell was brought up by Stephen Hill, a gay soldier 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," Hill said in a pre-recorded video. "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?"
Before anyone could answer, "boos" erupted from the crowd.
"It's like somebody punched me in the stomach," Dan Mitton said.
Mitton of Fort Myers proudly served 6 1/2 years in the Navy. He traveled the world and fulfilled a lifelong dream - a dream cut short when superiors discovered he was involved in a homosexual relationship with a soldier back in the U.S.
"Being asked to go home because they didn't like who I slept with, that was a huge intolerance," Mitton said.
He felt the repeal of the Don't Ask Don't Tell program was a great victory for equality, but knows there's still a long way to go.
"To see this sort of negativity yesterday, was disheartening," Mitton said. "That they would feel they have the right to boo him, when they are going home every night from their 9 to 5 jobs and they are not out there fighting for the country."
Sen. Rick Santorum responded to the question, saying "sexual activity has no place in the military," and that he would reinstitute Don't Ask Don't Tell if elected.
"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 in removing Don't Ask Dont Tell 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," Santorum said. "We need to give the military, which is all volunteer the ability to do so in a way that is most efficient to protect our men and women in uniform, and I believe this undermines that ability."
Afterward, Santorum said that during the debate, he didn't actually hear the people who booed the soldier, but condemns those did. We reached out to Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, and Congressman Connie Mack for their feelings on the reaction, but have yet to get a response.