During last night’s Republican presidential debate, Retired Brig. Gen. Keith Kerr, an openly gay man, asked the candidates why they “think that American men and women in uniform are not professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians.” Soon after the debate, controversy erupted around Kerr’s question when it was revealed that the general is actually a co-chair of “Veterans and Military Retirees for Hillary Committee” and a steering member of “LGBT Americans for Hillary.”
Since the debate, CNN has rightly been criticized for its “huge mistake” in not properly vetting the question. But, despite CNN’s labeling mistake, the solid, non-partisan question asked by Kerr is one that presidential candidates should address.
On Fox News today, however, conservative pundit Pat Buchanan personally attacked for Kerr for merely asking the question, saying that he “obviously did not have the courage” to “come out of the closet” while he was still serving in the military:
There’s an element of fraud here. When the general did not identify himself as a fierce partisan of Hillary Rodham Clinton and presented himself simply as a military man who had served and was gay. And who obviously did not have the courage, frankly, when he was in the military to come out of the closet and say I’m gay. And to attack the Republicans for lacking the courage to take a position he was unable to take, I think makes him look rather bad.
Considering that just last week Buchanan penned a column lamenting that “homosexual sodomy” is no longer “a crime” but “a lifestyle,” it’s not surprising to see him focus his attack on Kerr’s experience as a gay soldier. Regardless of the homophobia involved, however, Buchanan’s point is non-sensical.
What Buchanan neglects to note is that unlike the lawmakers, Kerr would have faced real consequences for speaking out against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” If Kerr were to “tell” about his sexual identity while serving, he would have joined the roughly 11,000 servicemembers that have been forced out of service since the policy was implemented in 1993.
So, while the right wing attacks Hillary Clinton (even though the Clinton campaign had nothing to do with Kerr’s question), and everybody criticizes CNN, only Pat Buchanan attacks the retired general who served his country for 43 years.
UPDATE: Over at TAPPED, Adele M. Stan notes how at the debate Gen. Kerr was “booed by an audience of Republicans” when he stood up to re-ask his question.