Fox News Unveils 2012 Wedge Issue—Gay People

A gay U.S. soldier in Iraq is booed by Fox’s presidential debate audience.

Fox News audience members, costumed in Revolutionary War drag, have no taste for gays in the military. Inexplicably, from the Village People looks of things. (Photo: Scott Audette)

Allan MacDonell is TakePart’s News + Opinion editor, with a focus on social justice.

Presidential campaign season is an illuminating 15 months that comes around once every four years, when TV screens across the nation fill with visions of how democracy really works. It is during presidential campaign season when American attitudes are defined through a prism of wedge issues. Political strategists take on the job of selecting contentious topics—often topics with very little global import—and presenting them in a manner intended to split the electorate in favor of particular candidates.

From here on to November 2012, expect to see certain Oval Office hopefuls plying anti-gay sentiment disguised as advocating for family sanctity and troop safety.

How many of the nine Republican presidential candidates do you count stepping forward to slap a STFU on crowd members who disrespected an American in uniform who is putting his life on the line for our liberties back home?

Thursday night’s Fox News debate among nine Republican would-be candidates presented a televised question from Stephen Hill, a U.S. soldier currently stationed in Iraq. Hill is just like any other soldier serving his nation in a distant and hostile land, and he is also gay, an admission greeted with scattered but distinct boos from the Fox News studio audience.

Check out the video. How many of the nine Republican presidential candidates do you count stepping forward to slap a STFU on crowd members who disrespected an American in uniform who is putting his life on the line for the liberties we back here in air-conditioned television-studio luxury all take for granted?

Please excuse the trick question. None of the nine super-patriots running for president had the combination of outrage and backbone required to take a live TV stand against mocking an American soldier—by all appearances, a pretty tough American soldier—who is currently risking his life in Iraq.

In fact, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum (if you don’t know him, Google him) expounded at length on the folly of repealing the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy of gay discrimination. The in-studio audience’s general applause at Santorum’s pledge to protect brave Americans from the gay menace escalated as Santorum gathered steam; the former senator’s hot air and the audience’s cheering and hooting reached a frenzied pitch of simultaneous climax, and political strategists in temperature-controlled offices throughout Washington, D.C., circled the word gay on their legal pads.


(Santorum issued a delayed statement concerning the disrespect of Stephen Hill: “I seriously did not hear those boos,” said Santorum. “Had I heard them, I certainly would have commented on them.”)

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