November 28th, 2007
10:45 PM ET
15 years ago

Gay war vet presses candidate on gays in the military

(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."

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. Candace

    Shame on the General for allowing himself to be a cheap useful idiot for the clinton campaign in more of their shady shenanigans. And shame on him again for living a lie for 43 years rather than coming out of the closet. He is not the upstanding citizen everyone is whining he is, he is dishonest.

    November 29, 2007 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |

    Screw you CNN. Even if you don't post a single post contrary to your agenda, we all know you're not a real news agency, and that you're just a bunch of useful idiots for the socialist Hillary Clinton and the rest of the far left commie facist controllers of the now defunkt democrat party. And the last laugh is on you, by all of us who don't need morons like you to tell us what to think. Have a nice day 🙂

    November 29, 2007 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  3. AP, Boston, MA

    actually the man isnt even a general he is a colonel!! The Brig. General apparently was an honorary title given at retirement.

    November 29, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  4. Jan Toledo OH

    How do you plant a question when they had thousands of questions to choose from. People, let's get real

    November 29, 2007 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  5. Tom Dedham, Mass

    IF this guy was part of someone's Republican campaign and this debate was on Fox, all you progressives would have no problems with ANY question that they asked, correct?

    Yeah, and there's this bridge.

    At last count the amount of supposed "undecided" debate voters who have proven ties to Democrats is up to 5, but the day is still young.

    November 29, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. Paul Markarian Tampa, Florida

    It is obvious that CNN is still the Clinton News Network. Not only is the general involved in the Klinton Kampaign, he is a high ranking member at that. CNN threw softball questions to the Democrats posed by Democrat supporters with one possible exception. While it was Democrat supporters asking questions delibertly slanted to make the Republicans look bad. YOUR NETWORK IS A FRAUD!

    November 29, 2007 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  7. Veronica Bloom, Jacksonville, FL

    it does not really matter who he works for, it was a VALID question.

    November 29, 2007 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  8. Just a suggestion out here

    Who cares! It was a question that needed to be asked! If I were a republican I think twice before voting for any of those guys. They are out to strip women of their rights and start a tidal wave on the gay community. Vote Democrat.

    November 29, 2007 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  9. Tom W - Dedham, Mass

    This bears repeating as NONE of you sheep can answer the question as you know it is the truth.

    Maybe that's why you are voting for Hillarity.

    "IF this guy was part of someone's Republican campaign and this debate was on Fox, all you progressives would have no problems with ANY question that they asked, correct?"

    November 30, 2007 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  10. dustin st.charles mo

    the point some of you people are missing is that cnn flew this guy in to ask his question. if he was just someone who sent in a video then i could understand the oversight but if they took the time to book this guys flight and pay for it you,im sorry i, would think they would check his background. think about if the dems had the courage to debate on foxnews and someone on a committe for gulliani asked a question how do you think the media would have reacted? i can tell you this it wouldn't have been swept under the rug and treated as a honest mistake.

    November 30, 2007 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  11. Mark, B'ham., Al.

    As a 20 year retired Navy Vet., I do not want to live 24 hours a day with a gay man in my berthing, my shower, and my latrine. That is like putting hetero men and women in the same berthing. They are going to check you out. If they say they are not go to check outtheir shipmates they lie better than lawyers and politiciians. If they allow gays to serve openly the only way it will work is to have seperate berthing, showers, and latrines or give the hetrosexuals the privilage of checking out the opposite sex they are attracted to by coed showers and berthing. The civilains in this blog do not understand that you do not just work with them and then go home to the privacy of your home, you have to live in close quarters 24 hours a day for months at a time.

    December 1, 2007 05:27 am at 5:27 am |
  12. OhioDemGuy, Westerville OH

    Mark in Birmingham, AL the comment you made about not wanting to live 24 hours a day with gay men because your worried they'll check you out is absolutely the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Do you honestly think a gay man joins the military to check you out? NO, they are there to serve their country just like you are.

    Not every gay person is a perve contrary to what the republicans want you to believe, just like not every hetero is a perve. Your comment once again proves how narrow minded those in the republican party truely are. If you are so uncomfortable about the situation, maybe your questioning your own sexual orientation. I happen to have many gay friends and they are the most loyal friends you could ever have, it never crosses my mind to think "Oh god I hope their not checking me out, that's sick." They are just like anyone else human.

    December 1, 2007 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
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