ThinkProgress filed this report from a town hall in Derry, New Hampshire.
During the last Republican presidential debate, a gay soldier named Stephen Hill asked the candidates about the recent repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Before former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) could respond, the GOP audience booed the servicemember. None of the candidates on stage rebuked the audience, allowing the booing to settle in unchallenged.
ThinkProgress spoke with New Hampshire state Rep. Al Baldasaro (R) on Friday evening following a Perry town hall meeting in Derry. Discussing the audience’s boos, Baldasaro said the real issue was the fact that Hill divulged his sexual orientation in the first place. “I was so disgusted over that gay marine* coming out,” Baldasaro said, because now Hill’s fellow soldiers will “start getting away from him” and “start ignoring him.” Baldasaro even speculated that because Hill came out of the closet, other soldiers might not protect him when “the shit hits the fan” in battle.
Baldasaro concluded by praising the Republican audience’s reaction to Hill:
KEYES: What did you make of that moment in the debate when they had the gay marine asking a question and there were a few in the audience who were booing him?
BALDASARO: I was so disgusted over that gay marine coming out, because when he came out of the closet. Bob won’t say it because they’re scared to get in trouble, but their brothers and sisters — brothers especially- that are there, they’ll start getting away from him. They’ll start ignoring him. He doesn’t realize it, but when the shit hits the fan, you want your brothers covering your back, not looking at your back.
KEYES: Did you have an issue with the audience reaction?
BALDASARO: Oh no, I thought the audience, when they booed the marine, I thought it was great.
ThinkProgress readers will remember Baldasaro as the Perry endorser who testified last year during a hearing on same-sex marriage that New Hampshire “sold” adoptees to same-sex couples.
In the week and a half since the debate, a handful of candidates have condemned the audience’s boos and expressed their regrets that they didn’t speak up on stage, including Santorum, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R), former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (R), and former pizza executive Herman Cain. Perry has remained noticeably silent on the matter.* During the conversation, Hill was inadvertently referred to as a marine rather than a soldier.