Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio was confronted by a gay New Hampshire resident today over his opposition to same-sex marriage, pointedly asking the Senator, “So Marco, being a gay man, why do you want to put me back in the closet?”
“I don’t,” Rubio responded, according to the New York Times. “You can live anywhere you want. I just believe marriage is between one man and one woman.”
The exchange took place at the Puritan Backroom Restaurant in Manchester, where Rubio stopped to talk to voters a day before the New Hampshire primary.
The voter, who identified himself as Timothy Kierstead, was sitting at the diner enjoying a meal with his mother and his husband when Mr. Rubio walked up behind him.
“You separate church and state,” the 50-year-old said. “You’re not separating it due to I’m a gay man.”
Rubio told him that wasn’t true and that he was not planning on establishing an official national religion. Rubio added, “in America, [religion] is a big part of our heritage.”
“I’m already married,” Kierstead said. “Have been for a long time. And you want to say we don’t matter.”
Rubio, who was standing with his 8-year-old son, Dominick, repeated: “No, I just believe marriage is between one man and one woman.”
“But that’s your belief, not half the country,” said Kierstead.
“I think that’s what the law should be, and if you don’t agree, you should have the law changed by the legislature,” Rubio said.
“The law already has been changed,” Kierstead fired back, apparently referring to a June Supreme Court decision that made marriage equality the law of the land.
“I respect your view,” Rubio said as he began to walk away.
“Typical politician,” Kierstead yelled out as he continued to walk away. “Walk away when you got something.”
In an interview after the exchange with Rubio, Kierstead said he owns a restaurant in Manchester, and he and his husband have three children. He is a registered independent and said he would likely cast his vote for a Democrat on Tuesday because Republicans did not support his right to marry.
“They want to take my rights away as a citizen of the United States,” said Kierstead. “Love is love. People don’t choose who they are going to love.”[RELATED | Marco Rubio: I’ll Reverse Obama’s LGBT Executive Orders, Appoint Anti-Gay Supreme Court Justices]
In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network last year, Rubio told host David Brody he would appoint Supreme Court justices who oppose same-sex marriage and abortion, and would also reverse all executive orders President Obama signed last year that ban discrimination against LGBT employees of federal contractors and the U.S. government.
Rubio had a second awkward exchange on Monday involving LGBT issues. A 92-year-old woman in the same restaurant asked Rubio about the marital status and sexual orientation of his former rival Sen. Lindsey Graham, who dropped out of the presidential race in December.
“He’s a bachelor, right?” the woman asked.
“He is,” confirmed Rubio.
“Is he gay?” she asked.
“No,” Rubio said with a chuckle.
Watch Rubio’s exchange with Kierstead below: