Rick Perry and gay soldiers (with audio)

Al Baldasaro

Texas Gov. Rick Perry hasn’t commented on the incident involving a gay soldier who was booed during the last Republican presidential debate. But one of Perry’s prominent supporters in New Hampshire certainly has.

Perry backer and New Hampshire State Rep. Alfred Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, told ThinkProgress on Friday that he was “disgusted” by the gay soldier, Stephen Hill, who submitted a question to the debate via YouTube about “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Baldasaro went on to say that “it was great” when members of the audience booed Hill. Here’s a full transcript from Scott Keyes at ThinkProgress:

KEYES: What did you make of that moment in the debate when they had the gay marine asking a question and there were a few in the audience who were booing him?

BALDASARO: I was so disgusted over that gay marine coming out, because when he came out of the closet. Bob won’t say it because they’re scared to get in trouble, but their brothers and sisters – brothers especially- that are there, they’ll start getting away from him. They’ll start ignoring him. He doesn’t realize it, but when the shit hits the fan, you want your brothers covering your back, not looking at your back.

KEYES: Did you have an issue with the audience reaction?

BALDASARO: Oh no, I thought the audience, when they booed the marine, I thought it was great.

On Tuesday, Baldasaro told the Union Leader that he stands behind his comments. But Baldasaro now claims he didn’t mean he was disgusted by the fact that Hill is gay, but rather by the fact that he appeared during a political event in an Army T-shirt. Baldasaro also stressed that he wasn’t speaking for Perry, adding that he was “speaking for myself as an American with a First Amendment right to free speech.”

Baldasaro also criticized reporters who’ve been covering his comments. “I wish they’d spend more time on jobs and the economy than what Al Baldasaro said,” he said. “They’re all looking for a story to make money for their papers.”

The Union Leader notes that four of the GOP presidential candidates — Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson and Herman Cain – have condemned the booing of the gay soldier.

Although Perry’s campaign hasn’t commented on the incident, the governor has previously addressed the subject of gay soldiers.

The day Perry signed Texas’ constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2005, the governor was asked what he would tell gay veterans returning from Iraq.

“Texans have made a decision about marriage, and if there is some other state that has a more lenient view than Texas, then maybe that’s a better place for them to live,” Perry responded.

Listen to audio of Baldasaro’s comments below.

—  John Wright

Saloonatics

‘Wild Oats’ is over the top — in all the wrong ways

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YEE HUH? | The Old West formula goes awry when a Reformation comedy gets a badly written update to the American frontier, though Andy Baldwin and Lee Jamison, center, make the most of it.

STEVEN LINDSEY   | Contributing Writer
stevencraiglindsey@me.com

The audience reaction throughout Wild Oats says it all. Half the theater-in-the-round patrons sit with stoic looks of boredom, arms crossed in defiance to the attempts onstage to garner laughs. The other half cackles uproariously at the Old West shenanigans in this pseudo-vaudevillian melodrama from playwright James McLure.

I sided more with the arm-crossers than the cacklers, though a laugh occasionally escaped me during this production. Wild Oats is one of those unfortunate theater experiences where I found myself focused on the Playbill, counting the number of scene until intermission like an inmate anxiously ticking away the days to parole. Perhaps the fact the theater was stiflingly hot and everyone around me was sweating and fanning themselves with their programs contributed to the prison feel; maybe it was the goofy over-acting by most of the actors. Or quite possibly, it is simply source material that’s gone stale.

McLure adapted the play from an 18th century comedy by John O’Keeffe, transporting the action to 19th century Muleshoe, Texas. All the elements for a classic Old West comedy are present and accounted for: A Native American with an Irish accent. A devilish pastor. A handsome, Shakespeare-loving cowboy. A flamboyant West Point drop-out. A wealthy, unrefined heiress. So why does it go so horribly awry?

For every moment of inspired lunacy, a joke is killed by being explained. Nothing kills a punch line more than a dissertation on its funniness. And while some clever gimmicks are funny the first time, they are only mildly amusing the third and fourth and completely worn out by the 16th rehashing. There’s a lot to absorb in the frenetic action unfolding all around you, one of the pure pleasures of theater-in-the-round, and this A.D.D. approach can often translate into grand comedy. Instead, it comes across as desperation.

There are some solid performances from actors who know how to tread the treacherous line between over-acting and willful exaggeration. Watching Andy Baldwin and Lee Jamison is sublimely enjoyable regardless of what they’re doing. They’re captivating, and each knows how to make the most of what they have been given. (A same-sex near-kiss between Baldwin and James Chandler is one of the play’s greatest bits of physical comedy.)

This production is the first show of Theatre 3’s landmark 50th anniversary season, so here’s hoping like the true sowing of wild oats that this is something they just had to get out of their systems. For a company deft at switching from comedy to Broadway musicals to intense drama with such finesse, this miss is easily forgiven.

But a miss it is. Maybe you’ll end up on Team Loves It and can joyfully explain what the rest of us missed. We can tell you what was interesting in the Playbill.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 19, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas