This past week, with the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, I felt so optimistic about a new era in gay rights. I guess I got caught up in the excitement and was overwhelmed by the change. But since Michele Bachmann is still spewing her bullshit and gay teens are still killing themselves over homophobia in schools, my high has quickly dissipated. I know that despite our military triumph, we still have so far to go in our pursuit for equality.
Nowhere was this more obvious than at the Republican debates in Orlando, Florida, last night. Stephen Hill, a soldier in Iraq, asked candidate Rick Santorum a question via webcam: "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 Hill could even finish asking his question, several audience members booed him.
Santorum answered Hill's question by saying, “I would say any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military. The fact they are 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 too, 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: to defend our country…”
I know, I know. Another crazy and homophobic Republican who can't formulate a proper English sentence. What a shocker, right? His statement is so depressing. "Sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military." I'm sorry, what? DADT isn't about "sexual activity." It's about the right to be open about your sexuality!
The reason I'm blogging this is because Santorum, and the Americans like him (and there are many: the audience enthusiastically applauded and cheered his statement), are so dangerously confused. And it is dangerous! Because when someone who could potentially be the next president of the United States twists something revolutionary and beautiful (like equal rights) into something sordid and wrong, people believe him. People follow his lead. People think, "Hey, that's a good point. I don't think our military boys should be giving each other blowjobs over there!"
That's why it's important that we call out misled influential people who are spreading lies or contorting the truth into what they think it is. We must call them out because if we don't, people will believe them, and we'll be right back to where we started.
The repeal of DADT isn't about "recognizing a group of people and giving them special privileges" as Rick Santorum would like us to think. It's about justice, compassion and acceptance. It's about integrity, a virtue (one amongst many, I assume) that he evidently lacks.