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Rick Santorum Condemned By Gay Rights Group GOProud For DADT Debate Comments

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The conservative gay rights group GOProud condemned Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum on Friday for saying he would reinstate the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy if elected president.

"Removing 'don't ask, don't tell' I think tries to inject social policy into the military," Santorum said during Thursday night's Republican presidential primary debate, in response to a question from Stephen Hill, a gay soldier currently serving in Iraq. Hill asked whether the candidates would attempt to "circumvent the progress that's been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military."

"We executed a policy that I think was detrimental to everyone, including them, in my opinion because sex and sexual preference should not be an issue in the military, period," Santorum elaborated following the debate. "And it should not be something that is demonstrated in any shape or form in the military. And it shows how much our culture has changed that this is even a subject to be debated within the military."

In a statement on Friday, GOProud said, “That brave gay soldier is doing something Rick Santorum has never done -- put his life on the line to defend our freedoms and our way of life," according to the Chicago Tribune.

“It is telling that Rick Santorum is so blinded by his anti-gay bigotry that he couldn't even bring himself to thank that gay soldier for his service," said the group. "Stephen Hill is serving our country in Iraq, fighting a war Senator Santorum says he supports. How can Senator Santorum claim to support this war if he doesn't support the brave men and women who are fighting it?”

Hill's question, and the response to it, became one of the more dramatic moments of the evening, after members of the crowd booed Hill following his question.

None of the GOP candidates said commented on the audience's response during the debate, but both Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman told Talking Points Memo after the event that the negative reaction was "unfortunate."

WATCH: Santorum answers a gay soldier's question about the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy

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Don't Ask, Don't Tell by the numbers

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