Social Issues in Orlando

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Fox’s Megyn Kelly was last night’s designated social issues questioner, and she directed herself to the middle of the field (transcript after the jump).

First up was Michele Bachmann, who got to explain her statement that church-state separation is a “myth.” Backing off the myth thing, Bachmann took refuge in the standard conservative meme that the Establishment Clause merely bans a national state church: “That’s really what the fundamental was of separation of church and
state.” Then, typically, she botched her history, contending that it was about a national church that those Danbury Baptists were concerned when they wrote to President Jefferson (drawing his famous response about the wall of separation). In fact, the Baptists wanted Jefferson’s moral support in their campaign to undo the the Standing Order–religious establishment–of Connecticut.

Next up was Rick Santorum, on whom Kelly laid the video clip of a gay soldier in Iraq who wanted to know whether the candidates intended “to
circumvent the progress that’s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in
the military?” The booing that ensured from the audience was this debate’s ugly moment, and it may have put the usually glib Santorum off his feed. Whatever, he wandered around for a while, hemming and hawing about how “any type of sexual activity has
absolutely no place in the military” (huh?), why it’s tragic to inject “social policy” and “social experimentation” into the military, declaring that he would reinstitute the policy “period,” and finally suggesting that a Santorum DADT would be for heterosexuals as well as homosexuals. Yikes!

Finally, Kelly taxed Ron Paul with pro-life inconsistency for supporting a rape exception to abortion bans and the morning-after pill. Paul first took the federalism route (this is state issue), then talked about the difficulty of policing  the pill, and finally announced, “Only the moral character of
the people will eventually solve this problem, not the law.” It ain’t easy being a pro-life libertarian.

Altogether, not exactly stellar performances.

From Transcript of September 22 GOP presidential debate in Orlando.

KELLY: And now I’m moving on from you, Governor Huntsman, to you,
Congresswoman Bachmann. In 2006, you said that public schools are,
quote, “teaching children that there is separation of church and state,”
and said, quote, “I am here to tell you that’s a myth.”

Do you believe that there is a limit…


… on government’s ability to inject religion into the public square? And if so, what is that limit?

BACHMANN: Well, I think that Thomas Jefferson stated it best. He was
the author of the — the religious liberty that he valued so much, and
that’s the — the United States government should not be a state church.
That’s really what the fundamental was of separation of church and

And when Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptists, the
Danbury Baptists wanted to know, will you have a national church in the
United States? He said no, because we believe in freedom of conscience,
we believe in freedom of religious liberty, and expression, and speech.

That’s a foundational principle in the United States. But that
doesn’t mean that we aren’t people of faith and that people of faith
shouldn’t be allowed to exercise religious liberty in the public square.
Of course we should be able to…


… (inaudible) exercise our faith. And — and whether that expression
occurs in a public school or occurs — occurs in a public building, we
should be able to allow — to have freedom for all people to express our
belief in God.


KELLY: Senator Santorum, this question stirred up a whole lot of
controversy online, and it comes from Stephen Hill, who is a soldier
serving in Iraq.


QUESTION: In 2010, when I was deployed to Iraq, I had to lie about
who I was, because I’m a gay soldier, and I didn’t want to lose my job.

My question is, under one of your presidencies, do you intend to
circumvent the progress that’s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in
the military?



SANTORUM: Yeah, I — I would say, any type of sexual activity has
absolutely no place in the military. And the fact that they’re making a
point to include it as a provision within the military that we are going
to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege to —
to — and removing “don’t ask/don’t tell” I think tries to inject social
policy into the military. And the military’s job is to do one thing, and
that is to defend our country.

We need to give the military, which is all-volunteer, the ability to
do so in a way that is most efficient at protecting our men and women in


And I believe this undermines that ability.


KELLY: So what — what — what would you do with soldiers like Stephen
Hill? I mean, he’s — now he’s out. He’s — you know, you saw his face on
camera. When he first submitted this video to us, it was without his
face on camera. Now he’s out. So what would you do as president?

SANTORUM: I think it’s — it’s — it’s — look, what we’re doing is
playing social experimentation with — with our military right now. And
that’s tragic.

I would — I would just say that, going forward, we would — we would
reinstitute that policy, if Rick Santorum was president, period.

That policy would be reinstituted. And as far as people who are in —
in — I would not throw them out, because that would be unfair to them
because of the policy of this administration, but we would move forward
in — in conformity with what was happening in the past, which was, sex
is not an issue. It is — it should not be an issue. Leave it alone, keep
it — keep it to yourself, whether you’re a heterosexual or a


KELLY: Congressman Paul, you have said that you believe that life
begins at conception and that abortion ends an innocent life. If you
believe that, how can you support a rape exception to abortion bans, and
how can you support the morning-after pill? Aren’t those lives just as

PAUL: They may be, but the way this is taken care of in our country,
it is not a national issue. This is a state issue. And there are


There are circumstances where doctors in the past have used certain
day-after pills for somebody with rape. And, quite frankly, if somebody
is treated, you don’t even know if a person is pregnant, you don’t even
know if there’s a disease, but if it’s 24 hours after rape, I don’t know
where — how you’re going to police it.

So I don’t think you should create — we have too many laws already.
Now, how are you going to police the day-after pill? It doesn’t make any
sense to me in a practical matter.

So I would say that nobody can out-do me on respect for life. I’ve
spent a lifetime dealing with life. But I still think there is a time
where the law doesn’t solve the problems. Only the moral character of
the people will eventually solve this problem, not the law.