Stephen Hill is the American soldier in Iraq who was booed when he asked candidates at the Republican presidential debate about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Hill was brave to call in to what he must have known would be a hostile audience. Nevertheless, the booing and the failure of any of the candidates to stick up for Hill were shocking. After all, the Republican party makes support for the troops obligatory and wears its “patriotism” on its lapel.
The incident with Hill illustrates the need to persevere at a time when we have made great strides and it might be tempting to rest on our laurels. DADT is history, nationwide marriage equality seems likely, if not inevitable, and DOMA is in its death throes. In fact, we have been so successful that other movements are beginning to emulate us. Dream Act students and atheists have been coming out in a conscious strategy learned from our struggle.
But our work is not done. As Hill points out with his question, repeals can be repealed and no victory is ever complete. John and Joe have rightfully stressed that no anti-discrimination policy was enacted with the repeal of DADT and bigots within the armed forces will still have plenty of opportunity to subject LGB soldiers to abuse. As I write, attempts are underway to legislate another indignity by preventing same-sex weddings on base.
Hill’s question reminds us that now is not the time to rest. To put it in somewhat militaristic terms: we must protect our advances, consolidate our position and move forward. To do that, each of us will have to keep the pressure on in our own way. For Hill, that meant going on national TV with his question. We could use an army of people like Hill in our quest for full equality.