Bob Garon, a 63-year-old gay military veteran, spoke on MSNBC Tuesday about his tense exchange Monday in Manchester, N.H. with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney over same-sex marriage.
Garon was eating breakfast with his husband at Chez Vachon restaurant and was wearing a Vietnam Veteran hat that Romney noticed. Garon asked about New Hampshire's gay marriage law. Romney said he supported the repeal of the law and believed that marriage was between a man and a woman.
"It's good to know how you feel, that you do not believe everyone is entitled to their constitutional rights," Garon replied.
"No, actually, I think at the time the Constitution was written it was pretty clear that marriage is between a man and a woman," Romney replied. "And I don't believe the Supreme Court has changed that." Garon told reporters that "you can't trust" Romney.
Garon spoke on MSNBC about the exchange. "Well, quite frankly I'm not a professor of the Constitution but I don't believe it says anything about a man and a woman and defining marriage," he said. "I didn't expect the answer that I got -- I thought he'd be a little more diplomatic in his answer. But I did ask for a yes-or-no question and I've got to respect that that he did give me a yes-or-no answer."
He said he felt Romney was avoiding him: "I was getting a little frustrated that he was avoiding me -- at least I felt he was -- he seemed to be following the cameras ... and I was the last person he spoke with."
Garon repeated that he didn't expect the answer. "What I didn't expect from Mr. Romney is how confrontational he was and argumentative, I wasn't there for a debate with him -- I just wanted him to answer the question. And my question was really hoping that if he did get into the White House that he'd be in support of the benefits entitled to veterans and their spouses. Currently, they're not."
While gays and lesbians can now serve in the military openly after the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, their spouses are not entitled to federal benefits because of the Defense of Marriage Act. The Huffington Post's Max Rosenthal reported that the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network filed a lawsuit in federal court in October challenging the constitutionality of DOMA as well as provisions in the U.S. code that forbid service members in same-sex marriages from receiving the same benefits as heterosexual couples.