Amy Davidson analyzes the encounter:
[Vietnam veteran Bob Garon, who was sitting at a table with his husband,] asked Romney where he stood on gay marriage. Romney was against it; when Garon followed up by asking why a same-sex partner shouldn’t get the veterans’ benefits available to spouses, Romney repeated that “I believe that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman, and we apparently disagree.” What is striking is how Romney, despite picking up—sooner than some of his rivals might have—what Garon thought of the issue, completely fails to turn this into any sort of a human moment. You are a politician; here is an old man, sitting next to you in a diner, who, one way or the other, has had a complicated life. There was no strand Romney could seek out and hang on to? Ask what years he fought in the war, express some sense of respect or internal struggle—anything.
TNC compares gay soldiers to black soldiers:
[A]sking people to die for this country, while denying them the full rights accorded other citizens is an ancient and disreputable tradition. Daniel Walker Howe, in his award-winning history, notes how Andrew Jackson won the Battle of New Orleans with a truly American army of blacks, Native Americans and Irishmen, and then went on to become his country's foremost white supremacist.
Blacks fighting in the Civil War suffered mortality rates 35 percent higher than their white comrades. Moreover, they faced court martial and execution at much higher rates. If they surrendered they were subject to enslavement, torture or massacre. Ten percent of all troops who fought for the Union were black. For their sorrows, they were turned over to the tender mercies of Red Shirts and White Liners and their sacrifice was erased from the history books