On Monday, February 8, in Manchester, New Hampshire, Timothy Kierstead, who identifies as gay, confronted GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio with one, pointed question: “Why do you want to put me back in the closet?”

According to the New York Times, Rubio responded “I don’t...You can live any way you want.”

But Kierstead was dissatisfied, and the exchange, which took place in the Puritan Backroom diner, did not result in compromise. From the Times:

“Mr. Rubio, who is seeking to win over conservatives, is seldom asked about gay rights at his campaign stops. But courting voters in a crowded New Hampshire diner on the eve of the primary is an unpredictable business.

[Kierstead] was seated at a table with his mother and his husband when Mr. Rubio walked up behind him, according to pool reports of the encounter. During a brief conversation, Mr. Kierstead, 50, told Mr. Rubio that he was married but complained that the senator’s position amounted to him declaring that ‘we don’t matter.’

Mr. Rubio, who was standing with his youngest son, Dominick, 8, by his side, gently disagreed. “No, I just believe marriage is between one man and one woman.”

‘Well,’ replied Mr. Kierstead, ‘that’s your belief.’

Mr. Rubio continued: ‘I think that’s what the law should be. And if you don’t agree you should have the law changed by a legislature.’”

Kierstead pointed out that, indeed, marriage laws have changed, referring perhaps to New Hampshire’s legalization of same-sex marriage or of the Supreme Court’s ruling. But at this point, Rubio chose not to engage further.

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“I respect your view,” the politician said, “patting Mr. Kierstead on the shoulder and starting to walk away.” Kierstead, however, had parting words for Rubio.

“Typical politician,” Kierstead remarked, his voice raised. “Walk away.”

Rubio’s campaign documented his visit to the diner, though, unsurprisingly, it’s framed in a rosier hue and depicts a much more amiable crowd:


Contact the author at rachel.vorona.cote@jezebel.com.

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