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GOP Candidates
Support “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

GOP Candidates
Support “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

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The Republican candidates faced off Wednesday evening during the CNN/YouTube debate in Florida, but they uniformly supported the military's current policy of not allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly known as "don't ask, don't tell." "I want to know why you think that American men and women in uniform are not professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians," asked retired brigadier general Keith Kerr, who served 43 years in the military. Kerr is part of Hillary Clinton's LGBT steering committee, which was not disclosed during the debate.

The Republican candidates faced off Wednesday evening during the CNN/YouTube debate in Florida, but they uniformly supported "don't ask, don' tell," the military's current policy of not allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly.

"I want to know why you think that American men and women in uniform are not professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians," asked retired brigadier general Keith Kerr, who served 43 years in the military. Kerr is part of Hillary Clinton's LGBT steering committee, which was not disclosed during the debate.

Rep. Duncan Hunter thanked Kerr for his service, then added, ''I believe in what [Gen.] Colin Powell said when he said that having openly homosexual people serving in the ranks would be bad for unit cohesion. The reason for that, even though people point to the Israelis and point to the Brits and point to other people as having homosexuals serve, is that most Americans -- most kids who leave that breakfast table and go out and serve in the military and make that corporate decision with their family -- most of them are conservatives. They have conservative values, and they have Judeo-Christian values. To force those people to work in a small tight unit with somebody who is openly homosexual goes against what they believe to be their principles -- and it is their principles -- is, I think, a disservice to them."

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee answered, "The Uniform Code of Military Justice is probably the best rule, and it has to do with conduct. People have a right to have whatever feelings, whatever attitudes they wish, but when their conduct could put at risk the morale, or put at risk even the cohesion that Duncan Hunter spoke of, I think that's what is at issue."

CNN moderator Anderson Cooper then directed the question to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who had originally supported the policy as a path to full integration of the U.S. military. "You said in 1994 that you looked forward to the day when gays and lesbians could serve, and I quote, 'openly and honestly in our nation's military.' Do you stand by that?" asked Cooper.

"This isn't that time. This is not that time. We're in the middle of a war," said Romney. He then defended his change in stance. "I didn't think it would work. I didn't think 'don't ask, don't tell' would work," Romney said. "And you know what? It's been there now for, what, 15 years? It seems to have worked."

Cooper also asked Sen. John McCain to answer, given his well-known biography of having served in the military and being a POW during the Vietnam War.

"General, I thank you for your service to our nation. I respect it," said McCain. "All the time, I talk to our military leaders, beginning with our joint chiefs of staff and the leaders in the field, such as General Petraeus and General Odierno and others... Almost unanimously, they tell me that this present policy is working, that we have the best military in history, that we have the bravest, most professional, best prepared, and that this policy ought to be continued because it's working."

Mike Huckabee, who is also a former preacher, was later asked if he would accept support from the Log Cabin Republicans.

"You know, in my position in this entire election, I need the support of anybody and everybody I can get," Huckabee said to applause. Huckabee, still a long-shot candidate, is now polling number 2 behind Mitt Romney in Iowa but has an extreme funding disadvantage.

Huckabee continued, "I disagree with them, strongly disagree with them on the idea of same-sex marriage, but in a democracy we can have disagreements over some policies and still agree on the greater things that make us Republicans. So would I accept their support? Of course. Would I change my position on same-sex marriage? No, I wouldn't." (The Advocate)

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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