MANCHESTER, N.H. - Mitt Romney had an uncomfortable exchange over same-sex marriage with a gay veteran having breakfast in New Hampshire this morning.
At an event that was meant to highlight the endorsement of Romney by Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, veteran Bob Garon of Ebson, N.H., asked the presidential candidate, who stopped by his breakfast table, whether he supports the repeal of the New Hampshire same-sex marriage law.
A Republican-controlled legislature has moved toward repealing the law, enacted in 2009 when Democrats controlled the legislature. A vote could come next month.
Romney told Garon, who was chowing down on his everyday staple of scrambled eggs and shaved ham at the restaurant Chez Vachon, that he supports a repeal of the same-sex marriage law, prompting an emotional exchange.
“I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman,” Romney said, joining Garon in the diner booth after shaking hands with several other patrons.
Garon responded, clarifying that what that meant was that if Romney is elected he would not support any legislation that would change the law so that gay servicemen would get the same benefits as heterosexual couples.
“I believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” Romney said. “We apparently disagree on that.”
“It’s good to know how you feel, that you do not believe everyone is entitled to their constitutional rights,” the 63-year-old New Hampshire resident responded.
“No, actually I think at the time the Constitution was written it was pretty clear marriage was between a man and a woman,” Romney said, just as one of his campaign aides chimed in that they had “to get going” to another Fox interview.
“Oh, I guess the question was too hot,” Garon quipped to Romney and his aide.
“No, I gave you the answer, you said you had a yes or no answer and I gave you the answer,” Romney said, turning back to face Garon.
“You did and I appreciate your answer. And I learned something, New Hampshire is right, you have to look a man in the eye to get a good answer and you know what governor?” Garon said, pausing. “Good luck. You’re going to need it.”
Romney laughed and agreed with Garon that he’d need the luck, shaking his hand before leaving. Garon then held court with the media, voicing his anger of Romney’s answer while also saying that he had “got what he asked for” when he poised the yes or no question.
Asked by reporters after Romney left why he feels so strongly about the issue, Garon grew even more passionate.
“Because I’m gay, all right?” he said. “And I happen to love a man just like you probably love your wife.”
Garon was sitting in a booth with his husband, whom he said he married in June.
“I went and fought for my country and I think my spouse should be entitled to the same [benefits as they would] if I were married to a woman,” he said. “What the hell is the difference?”