Gay Vietnam vet tackles Romney
Republican Mitt Romney probably didnât know what hit him in a Manchester diner on Monday when he tucked into a booth to make small talk with an older man wearing a âVietnam Vetâ baseball cap.
Romney has been vocal in opposing cuts to U.S. military spending, and chatting up a veteran would seem like an easy warm-up to a day on the campaign trail.
But military spending wasnât on the mind of Bob Garon, who served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
Garon is gay, and a newlywed. He was eating at the Chez Vachon diner, as he does most days, with his husband, Bob Lemire, 73. The couple — whom friends sometimes call âBob Oneâ and âBob Twoâ — married in June after 15 years together.
Same sex marriage became legal in New Hampshire in 2010, but the stateâs Republican-controlled legislature has moved toward repealing the law.
When Romney sat down next to Garon, the Epson resident asked him, âIf two men get married, apparently a veteranâs spouse would not be entitled to any burial benefits or medical benefits or anything that the serviceman has devoted his time and effort to his country, and you just donât support equality in terms of same-sex marriage?â
Romney reiterated his support for the Defense of Marriage Act. âAnd we apparently disagree,â he added.
âItâs good to know how you feel,â Garon said. âThat you do not believe that everyone is entitled to their constitutional rights.â
After more sparring Romney was whisked away for a television interview, leaving Garon to hold court.
âWe got married here, where itâs legal. Unless Mitt Romney gets elected,â Garon told reporters. âI donât think his beliefs should dictate our Constitution. Itâs not his choice, itâs my choice.â
âI 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,â he said. âWhat the hell is the difference?â
Garon told reporters he thought Romney would fail on his quest for the White House. âThe guy ainât going to make it,â Garon said of Romney. âYou canât trust him. I just saw it in his eyes.â
âAt least Obama will entertain the idea [of gay marriage],â said Garon. âThis man is âNo way, Jose.â Well, take that, âNo way, Joseâ back to Massachusetts.â
Garonâs military service came decades before the 1993 âDonât Ask, Donât Tellâ law, which prohibited military personnel from discriminating against or harassing closeted homosexual service members, but barred openly gay, lesbian or bisexual persons from military service. The law was ended by President Barack Obama in September 2011, allowing gays to serve openly in the U.S. military.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Brian Snyder – Mitt Romney (R) talks to Vietnam War veteran Bob Garon at Chez Vachon Restaurant in Manchester, New Hampshire December 12, 2011.