President Barack Obama publicly reprimanded Republican presidential candidates for not standing up for a gay American solider who was booed at a Republican debate. At the debate, which saw a turnout of 3,200 supporters, Obama began by applauding his administration for the repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Additionally, Obama urged Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed in 1996 and states that marriage should be between a man and a woman and has since been the bill that prohibits gay and lesbian couples from marrying. However, despite his strong opinions in these areas, Obama again failed to take a personal stance on same-sex marriages (MSNBC).
U.S. soldier, Stephen Hill, who is currently completing a tour in Iraq, submitted a video asking about the repeal of the law that banned open gays from serving in the military (MSNBC). "Do you intend to circumvent the progress that has been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?" Hill questioned, after explaining that he was forced to hide who he really was when signing up for the military (Kerley). Hill was booed by the audience (MSNBC). .
"You want to be commander in chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it's not politically convenient," Obama reprimanded during the annual dinner of the Human Rights Council, the largest gay rights organization in the nation. "We don't believe in standing silent when that happens" (MSNBC). .
"We don't believe in the kind of smallness that says it's okay for a stage full of political leaders - one of whom could end up being the President of the United States - being silent when an American solider is booed," he continued (Carbone). .
Conveniently, the scene at the debate provided Obama with the opportunity to attack his Republican rivals inconspicuously. His poll numbers have been lacking lately, and he needs a reason to rally his liberal base of support before the November 2012 elections.