(CNN) - In a powerful moment in the home-stretch of the CNN/YouTube debate, Keith Kerr, a 43-year military veteran and retired general, who announced he was gay after retitiring from the military, asked the GOP candidates why they think "American men and women in uniform are not professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians?"
Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee both said that openly homosexual individuals in the military would create problems with troop morale and unit cohesion.
When Romney was pressed by moderator Anderson Cooper about whether he looks forward to a time when gays can serve openly in the military, as he said he did in 1994, Romney dodged the question.
"I can listen to the people on the military to see what the circumstances are like," Romney said.
Kerr took specific issue with Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who said, "most kids who leave that breakfast table who go out to serve in the military and break that corporate decision with the family, most are conservative and have conservative values and Judeo-Christian values. And to force those people to have a small, tight unit with somebody who is openly homosexual, who goes against what they believe to be their principles, and it is their principles, is I think a disservice to them."
When asked by Anderson Cooper if he received adequate answers to his question, Kerr responded that he had not, and said, "What Congressman Hunter is talking about, that they simply they happen to be gay. We are talking about doctors, nurses, pilots and surgeons who sew somebody up when they are taken from the battlefield."
In the middle of Kerr's response, his microphone cut out briefly, which only added to the heat of the moment as the St. Petersburg audience booed Kerr while he was speaking.
- CNN 's Natalie Apsell and Lauren Kornreich
UPDATE: CNN later learned that retired brigadier general Keith Kerr served on Clinton's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender steering committee.
CNN Senior Vice President and Executive Producer of the debate, David Bohrman, says, "We regret this incident. CNN would not have used the General's question had we known that he was connected to any presidential candidate."