86-year-old WWII vet on gay marriage: "What do you think I fought for in Omaha Beach?"

Darren sez, "A disarming video of an 86-year-old WWII veteran from a public meeting on Maine's marriage equality bill on April 22, 2009."

The woman at my polling place asked me do I believe in equality for gay and lesbian people. I was pretty surprised to be asked a question like that. It made no sense to me. Finally I asked her: what do you think I fought for in Omaha Beach?

Philip (Thanks, Darren!)


  1. I have tears in my cynical eyes.I woke my girlfriend up, We watched we cried.
    It started once. Don’t let it start again.

    1. please thank your neighbor for me. i am very proud to be represented by such a fair and decent person.

  2. It’s reassuring to see a man of his stature take that stance, and to stand up in front of everyone and put the bigots in their place. That was a beautiful speech from a respectable and noble man.

    1. why r w bgts bcs w blv th Bbl? W stll lv ths ppl, w jst dnt gr wth th lfstyl, thy nd Jss, nd Jss. Ths “tlrnc” ss, hs bn brdng n ntlrnc fr t lng. m pryng fr r gnrtn t sk th trth, nt ths d f “tlrnc-ntlrnc” flknss tht cms crss s htfl. dr y t chck ths t yrslf, nstd f lstnng t vrybdy ls n th sbjct. Chck t t fr yrslf. Dn’t blst ppl nlss y hv wlkd n thr shs.

      1. Hiding behind a Bible doesn’t make you right; it holds you back and renders you beneath the issue being discussed. Your assumption that I do not know whereof I speak is also an example of ignorant bigotry, though in this smaller scale I believe “arrogance” would be more appropriate.

        Read John 2:17. What do you suppose is meant by “the will of God?” What is God? God is love. God is the creative force in the universe, do you agree with that? So if you live your life according to His will, then you live a life governed by what? By love. By easing suffering and helping your neighbors.

        You said those people need Jesus. They need love. What you seem unwilling to accept is that they HAVE love. They ARE good people. It is you who would deny them equality with the rest of us, and do it while hiding behind the very words that tell you otherwise.

        But hey, thanks for the troll. It gave me a chance to soapbox again.

      2. Actually I’d like to hear more about what Jesus had to say about homosexuality.

        Wait, nothing at all? And the part of the Old Testament that mentions it also calls lobster an “abomination?” Good luck selling THAT idea in Maine.

        1. I’m still sort of inappropriately giggling at the guy defending the recent attack in Queens who has the “mankind” section of Leviticus tattooed on his arm… I really want to follow him around with the section of Leviticus that says tattoos are evil.

      3. I believe the anon I am replying to said “why are we bigots because we believe the bible?” Well, you didn’t say which bible but I’ll assume you mean one of the common modern english versions like the King James translation, (A translation sponsored for propaganda purposes to allow the church of England to try to debase the authority of the church of Rome, at the time.)

        Depending on what you “believe” “in the bible” can make you a bigot because its quite easy to pick and choose selected statements from the bible and promote them as “the word of GAWD!” For example, the story of the two daughters who deliberately got their father drunk so they could have sex with him, and then did so. That story could be juxtaposed by a preacher with: “Go thou and do likewise”. So if you believe the bible, incest is OK [as long as you’re drunk.]

        OK that’s a ridiculous example. Deliberately chosen just to show that you can find pseudo-justification for almost anything in a tomb of text as large and diverse as the bible.

        Since very few people actually read the bible in its entirety, and study where the words actually came from and whether they were correctly translated or not etc.. Its easy for people trained to be charismatic and “expert” (graduates of ministerial schools [I attended one for two years]) to claim to have the true understanding of what GAWD meant to say and what GAWD wants you to do.

        The Earth is only 5,000 years old? sure! Black people were meant to be slaves, God created them that way. [Not in the bible afaik, but claimed by preachers here in the USA not too very long ago. Gay people are the devil’s spawn! [Wait – that means Alan Turing (who helped defeat Nazi Germany by designing the tools we used to break their secret codes), was evil! and if he was Evil, then everyone on his side of WWII was Evil too! So GAWD really wanted the Nazi’s to win WWII….] OMG! We must surrender to Germany immediately! Profess your faith! Submit to GAWD’s will!

        erm.. Sorry. (wipes the flecks of foam from his mouth) Got a little carried away there.

        There have been over 3,000 different GAWDs worshiped throughout the history of mankind. Most of them venal, stupid reflections of humanities own biases, like the vengeful, violent, mass murdering God of the Old Testament.

        How does believing in the bible make you a bigot? It doesn’t. You have the cause and effect backwards. People are already bigots and want a justification for it so you^H^H^H they find the version of the bible (this or that faction of alleged Christianity) that supports that set of biases and start sending checks in.

        Some days I think of starting my own religion just because you would make very good money for doing nothing but echoing people’s ignorant beliefs
        back to them.

        They say the work pays well… if you can stomach it.

        /apologies to RAH/

  3. i’m in love. he’s a widow, i’m not married. can you get me his number

    that’s one wicked cool dude

  4. First I cried at this noble man’s touching statement.

    Then I thought “how long until they ‘swiftboat’ him?”

  5. So what? I’m sure you could find war vets who felt exactly the opposite.

    I’m not saying the guy isn’t a hero; I’m saying that his opinions are no more or less relevant than anyone else’s.

    1. What? The guys opinion was that he fought and suffered so that people could be treated as equals. Which veterans would think the opposite? Oh right, the German ones.

    2. This man travelled halfway around the world and put his life on the line to protect our freedoms and you have the audacity to claim his opinion as to the value of those freedoms is no more relevant than yours? What have you done to secure our freedoms sir?

      1. That is a logical fallacy.

        Opinions should stand on their own merits, they should not be more valid according to our sympathy for the person opinionating.

        It is very good to know that decent people spouse decent opinions, but this is not the only way that paople and opinions can be matched.

    3. I agree that an opinion is not more valid just because it comes from someone who served in the military, however, in general when we hear people stating proudly how they served in the armed forces and are life-long Republicans, we usually don’t end up listening to something like that. It was refreshing and reassuring, to know that progress is inevitable, and that all different kinds of people, from all generations and backgrounds believe in the fundamental RIGHT of equality!

    4. No. Regardless of your background — if your ‘opinion’ is that people in a country based on freedom, individuality, autonomy, and self-determination shoud not all have the freedom to pursue what they want in life so long as they aren’t stepping on anyone else’s toes — then your opinion is NOT just as valid as anyone else’s.

      There were people who were for slavery and against women’s suffrage and thought a black man should only be counted as 3/5ths of a man. Sure, that is an opinion. But it’s not a valid, acceptable, or right opinion and there is no honor in defending it as such.

      Fortunately, this country has a set of foundations laid out very clearly and in no way do they ever state that there are exceptions to a man or woman’s freedom. As long as we stick to upholding freedom – even if people use that freedom to do things we feel are stupid – we’ll be alright.

    5. I’m guessing you don’t get it………..it was about how incredibly well spoken he was, were you REALLY listening?

  6. I was so afraid that the title was a sarcastic response in the direction of hate – it was such a relief to hear that someone fought for everyone’s freedom and equality, not just some.

  7. @Xenu – You are obviously reading a different version of this article to me, where it says his opinions are more or less relevant than anyone else’s. I keep looking and all I can see is a brief comment about it being “disarming”. There’s very little editorial in this article, so no reason to get your knickers in a twist.

    Reminds me of what’s happening in the UK at the moment. The British National Party love to use military images (Spitfires, images of soldiers etc) in their publicity, and a bunch of senior former officers (Including the former heads of the SAS and the Army) have weighed in and told them to stop it. As one general put it “Courage is colour blind”.

    Thankfully the BNP are coming off worse in the scrap, even comparing the generals to Nazi war criminals. It’s a great example of why the BNP should be allowed on TV etc, because every time they open their mouths they tend to embarrass themselves.

    1. When I saw that BNP got a seat in Brussels in the last EU house election, I couldn’t believe it. I’m in no way trying to be sarcastic or condescend when I ask; How did that happen in a state as progressive as the U.K.? That’s the kind of thing I would expect to see in Texas or, most regrettably, my own home state of Georgia.

  8. The relevance of the thing results from it being a rational, self-evidently correct argument. The irrelevance of the opposite argument results from it being based on religious, or otherwise fallacious reasoning.

    1. Thanks for that comment gniobboing. I was phrasing a reply to Xenu in my head, and saw that you had stated a succinct reply that embodied my own thoughts.

    2. Thanks for that observation. We need to keep that in mind. These things we hold as self-evident, no matter what a bunch of zealots say. Mr. Spooner’s disbelief at the question he was asked expresses this elegantly.

  9. It’s good to know that you can be elderly and Republican and still care about equal rights for all humans. Kudos to this man for being a decent and understanding human being.

  10. Having lost my Grandfather this year (he faught in WW2, along side his 2 brothers) this makes me weepy and proud at the same time.

  11. Xenu – this guy embodies all the values the bigots claim they stand for – love of country, military service, Republican, etc, and yet he is emphatically not one of them. I’d like to think seeing this would help crack open some of their tiny little minds, but I doubt it.

  12. That was INCREDIBLE. This man EMBODIES the title given to the veterans of WW2: “the Greatest Generation.”

    My 85 year old father is a WW2 American Army veteran. He served in France, England, Germany, and Belgium. Before he was stricken with Alzheimer’s, he used to tell me amazing stories of his experiences in wartime Europe. How I wish he had learned from those experiences as this gentleman from Maine so clearly has done. My father harbored many prejudices his whole life and he never accepted the concept of equality for all. He never seemed to grasp the big picture. I guess he was too absorbed in the relative minutae of daily events. How I would have loved for him to have heard this speech and have sat down with the speaker for a chat. Perhaps he would have come away with a little broader field of vision.

  13. I can’t watch the video right now, but after reading the little excerpt and the first few comments, I honestly couldn’t tell which way this article was leaning.

  14. It’s always striking to me that the people who would strip Gay and Lesbian people of their rights, who would create second-class citizens, have often never sacrificed anything for their country. The bigots who would tell Lt. Dan Choi that his military service is no longer required because of his sexual orientation haven’t done a hitch, or even served their nation in some non-military capacity. No, they’re often very happy to enjoy the freedoms and liberties that others, many of them GLBTQ, have fought and worked and died for.

    Does serving in the military make you “more right”? No. Does it mean you have a better understanding of just how precious, how rare, how wonderful a thing our rights really are? Oh yes.

    Thanks Philip, for your service, for your support, for your family and for your wisdom.

  15. Phillip Spooner has reached his 86th year of life full of love and wisdom. Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do, sir, even though I sometimes suspect we don’t deserve it.

  16. Wonderful, he brought tears to my eyes. Truly he fought for America; a Great America where ideals still live even through/or because of the hate of others.
    All comments and opinions are not created equal, this man PWND ignorance (revisionists), and bigots, (anti gay). It is too bad that there are not more of men his caliber ruling this country; sadly the truly humble seem never to seek power and we are left with bigoted narcissists and the glory seekers.

  17. I’m from Maine, and I was there in Augusta during this public forum to discuss Equal Equality Marriage. Believe me,
    there were dozens of speakers who absolutely blew your mind, coming from diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and sections of the community. However, being in an auditorium with what I refer to as the “continual human fringe element of reality” (a.k.a Christian wingnuts), leaves you feeling existential and afraid for the progress of the human race.

    Thank you so much for posting this, and all Mainers get out at vote NO on 1.

    Let’s evolve, people.

  18. This man is a perfect example of why I snap at people who speak disparagingly of “all Republicans”, or “all Americans”. I’m not from the U.S. but I know a few things about its people and about its politics. I also know that there are all sorts of people in this big world of ours.

    Right now, I wish I knew Philip.

  19. My Dad was in Patton’s Third Army and participated in the liberation of the death camps. He could not stand bigoted intolerance and my brother and sisters and I were raised to respect everyone equally. He would’ve been 87 this year. I remember after my Mom passed away, he came to SF and spent and afternoon with myself, my girlfriend and a gay couple who were our best friends. After an hour or so, my Dad pulled me aside and asked, “Do those two bunk together?” I replied, “Yes.” and he just quietly responded, “That’s good.” took another sip of his wine and smiled at how things CAN be good in this world if people are loving and respectful.

  20. “My wife of 54 years, Jenny died in 1997. Together, we had four children, including the one gay son, who is now the man proudest of his dad in the whole world.

    Fixed it for you, sir.

  21. Just watched it, amazing! Thank you sir for your service to your country and for standing up to hate and bigotry.

    @Suburbancowboy, you know Faux News would never show that and if they did, they would try to spin it as him being a ‘liberal!’ rather than a Republican.

  22. “What do you think I fought for in Omaha beach?”

    Brilliant. I always wondered what people thought fighting for freedom was about…freedom from tyranny, freedom from excessive intrusion in one’s life and freedom of choice when it doesn’t hurt others.

    @ Paul October 21, 2009 1:20 AM

    Nice summary. Thanks.

  23. I would never suggest this normally, but the dear gentleman did list his address in the speech, and I am sorely tempted to send him a thank you card letting him know that his voice was heard.

    If anyone deserves fan mail, Mr. Spooner does.

  24. This man is truly, truly a hero. My heart swelled with pride to know that there are people like this still in existence.

    I am grateful for his words as a daughter, a mother, a lesbian, but mostly as an American.

  25. To the poster talking about the BNP – even more than the stupidity of using the RAF to promote xenophobia, the dummies at the BNP actually used a spitfire with markings which indicate it was one of the POLISH air arm that fought in RAF planes in the battle of britain.

    Which is kinda great, to see bigots annihilate themselves using their own money.

  26. I am so proud to be a citizen of the State that produced a man as decent as Mr. Philip Spooner. I too, ran out to get my husband to watch, and both of us teared up. The propaganda here is nuts…radio ads about how the issue has “everything” to do with schools, etc. Mr. Spooner cuts to the chase. We ARE all equal.

  27. Xenu: It’s not about this man’s opinions being “more relevant” than anyone else’s — but personally, I found it a salutary reminder that when you ASSUME you just make an ASS of both U and ME. And believe me, when I was coming out, I got a lot of support (and unconditional love and humanity) from places I wasn’t really expecting — including my elderly, very conservative, WW2 veteran father.

  28. Thank you, Phillip, for reminding me of everything that is good about our country. And most importantly, thank you for your years of selfless service. God Bless you.

  29. @xenu: do yourself a favor and dont comment again in any blog.. I dont know how ppl cant believe in equality for everyone..

    1. axl456 I am pretty sure that’s not what Xenu meant. His point was more like “well thats nice but why is this one guy so special.”

      He missed the point that someone raised later in the thread: because he’s exactly the kind of guy the Conservative set love to idealize, but he doesn’t fall into the closeminded, bigoted trap that some conservatives seem prone to.

    2. So you believe in equality for people who share your opinion only? We have a word for that: fascism.

      And no, I never said I disagreed with this guy. But if you place the opinions of soldiers above everyone else, you’re falling into a very dangerous trap.

      1. How can there even be two “sides” to a discussion about an issue that is clearly about equal rights? Anybody carrying signs that read “Inequality Now!” ? And questioning “relevance” of a person’s opinion that has put his life on the line for us all (I mean even for straight, fat grandfathers like me)? Laughable. Finally, where is there any basis for dissent against a speech so beautiful? Answer: No where that makes any sense.

  30. How long before Limbaugh/Beck/OReilly try to kick him out of the Republican Party? They might calld upon the Swift Boat people to investigate and challenge his medals.
    I hope this guy will be ok.

  31. I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
    (emphasis mine)

    Mr. Spooner takes his oath seriously. And as old and infirm as he appears to be, continues to support and defend that Constitution.

    Thank you, sir, for all that you have done, and continue to do, for your country and for our Constitution.

    1. Amen to that. I to took that same oath and honor it to this day. This patriot embodies the true American spirit of freedom for all regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation.

  32. No on 1 did a mailing featuring Mr. Spooner and quotes from his testimony. It arrived in my mailbox on Saturday and I started crying just reading it. Then I watched the video and the waterworks really started.

    It is people like Mr. Spooner who will help us be victorious here in Maine — 13 days. We will make history at the ballot box and become the first state to legalize same-sex marriage through legislative mandate.

    To everyone reading this, please help us. This is a historic moment and we need every bit of support we can get. Time, money, even positive thinking if that is all you can give. Thank you!


  33. Damn right. That’s what our men and women for overseas to fight for. Not for oppression of rights but for FREEDOM! Who are we to say that a man cannot marry another man or a woman cannot marry another woman. This is America dammit! A homosexual man or woman should have the same right to get married as a myself or any other heterosexual couple. God Bless America!

  34. Cover your ears…


    Well actually, this veteran did but you brought it to me.

  35. I’m going to a gay wedding in Massachusetts this coming weekend. The couple has been together longer than most straight couples I know, and it’s awesome to see how ridiculously happy they are to be able to be married.

    I’m a former Infantry soldier, Gulf War vet with 10 years in uniform, gun owner, and proud social liberal. The idea that veterans are always conservative is just plain ridiculous. The same NASCAR Dad types are in the Army in abundance, but there are plenty of folks that don’t follow that line of thinking.

  36. My Dad also fought at the Battle of the Bulge. I cried when this veteran mentioned the ovens of WWII. Many younger people weren’t taught that homosexuals were one of the first targets of Hitler’s Reign of Terror.
    This man is courageous and his gay child – heck all three of his children are lucky to have such a wonderful role model!

  37. Wisdom on display here. This makes me feel hopeful that rational thought will win the day here.

    There’s a strong progressive tradition in the North East that includes equal-marriage backing institutions such as the Unitarian Universalists Association and the United Church of Christ (Welcoming Congregation / Open & Affirming Congregation). I don’t think it will be easy to roll back the clock.

  38. It is not that his remarks are more *relevant*, Xenu, it is that it is too easy to think that any white Republican male of his generation would never support what he does, and here is this man to debunk it. we need hope that we can hold hands with others all across the spectrum on important social issues like this–no matter the political affiliation, race, background, gender etc. his speaking up means a virtually unseen population suddenly has a voice–those in the republican party who do NOT support a platform of hatred, who are saying, “When it comes to equal rights, the loud public voices of my party do NOT speak for me.” If you can’t understand the importance of the wider world getting to see that, when the public debate has gotten so shrill and hateful, then what can I tell you.

  39. This man’s bravery is something uncommon in this country. Yea him and yea others who chose to act like this!

  40. Xenu – consider this:

    First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
    Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist;
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

  41. I love this remarkable man ! may he be blessed the rest of his days……oh ! he already is. Thank you. Sir !

  42. Very moving – and very apposite, particularly where he said he didn’t raise 4 boys for 3 to have more rights than the 4th. Thank you sir, you’ve made the argument very clear.

    I just hope some of the positive comments above get back to him; he’s a great man and a great father.

  43. Thank you for sharing. Yes, his opinion DOES count for a lot. Part of a vanishing generation. Would we have the guts to confront Hitler and his cronies? G-d I hope so.

  44. That’s what it is about and why gay people in the U.S.A. must be honest about their sexuality [though hard, often]. You are not going to be hanged for your sexuality, unlike many in this world. Let your families, friends and co workers see that you are the same person whatever your sexuality.
    My wonderful dad died a few months ago. At 15 he lied about his age & joined the British army in the war with his 2 brothers that were both gay. One was killed & one was arrested, electrocuted & imprisoned in the 1950’s, he killed himself. My dad could never talk about him without crying & feeling guilt because he did nothing to help.

    We are all people whom should only be judged on our characters.
    Great, heart warming video.

  45. This gave me chills, and I’m near tears. This video alone shows how beautiful a human being can be.

  46. People have a right to believe that being gay makes someone the sub-human spawn of Satan. other people have the right to believe otherwise. In the end, however, the law of the land – the Constitution – declares that, in civil matters, including contracts, all citizens are equal in the eyes of the law and have an equal right to both the protections, and the responsibilities, of the law. Anyone who has ever sworn the oath (taken by soldiers, politcians, and intelligence professionals, among others) to “defend and protect the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic” should understand that this equality is the foundation-stone of all other Constitutional tenets. Anyone who rejects this fundamental equality, regardless of reason, must therefore logically reject the entirety of the Constitution that is built upon that base – in which case, any simultaneous claim of being “a real Americans” or “a patriot” is at best a hollow hypocrisy, a lie.

    How strange that someone exemplifying the simple decency that used to be considered *the* core of all American values is now seen as an almost supernatural being, as one of the last members of a doomed species. This sole thing, this shift, says more about America’s fall than does any news article, any treatise, any condemnation.

    We, as Americans, are faced with a choice: will we allow this hero, Phillip Spooner, to indeed be one of the last survovors of a dying species, or will we work towards re-establishing the former American values of equality, of decency, of true liberty?

  47. I don’t think that gay marriage should be recognized by the government, but I also don’t think that strait marriage or any other sort of marriage should be recognized by the government. Why does our government feel the need to treat any individual differently based on that person finding someone they wish to commit to? Marriage isn’t a government institution and they have no right to discriminate based on it.

  48. This brought tears tomy eyes!!!!It means so much, gives me strength, makes me proud!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Aubrey Weathersby

  49. My grandfather was in the Battle of the Bulge too, and I like to think that if he were still alive today, he would agree with this veteran wholeheartedly. This guy really puts it in perspective, and shows just how petty the idea of being against equal treatment for homosexuals really is. Well done, sir.

  50. Some people don’t get the things that everyone has a right to because they like to have sex with some other people.

    I could never figure this one out.

  51. People who have same sex relations already have equality. Not having state recognition is no more discrimination than taxes on alcohol and tobacco are discrimination on people who drink and smoke. It’s a government preference not on identity but on behavior, which the government does all the time.

    1. People who have same sex relations already have equality.

      Sure, in the same sense that mixed-race couples had equality back in the days when they could legally be denied marriage licenses for not choosing someone of the same color. They still had the right to marry within their own race, so what was the big deal?

      1. I agree with brainspore that denying gay couples of marriage is the same as denying an interacial couple, which was banned quite a while ago. Why can’t people get it through their heads. Also marriage is a constitutional right of the state so let the friggin states decide because if the national government would like to make a law against gay marriage it will be going directly against the constitution.

  52. @two anonymous posters: the BNP got in because of a proportional voting system. (In European elections, to cut a long story short, if you get more than about 5% of the total vote across all constituencies, even if you do not win a single constituency outright, you will have at least one MEP).

    A “first past the post” voting system is unfair to minor parties because they are extremely unlikely to gain the majority of votes in a seat where it is likely that the three major parties will be contesting that seat as well. The only advantage of the current voting system is that it keeps the BNP out of the UK Parliament …

    I also note, in passing, that the BNP considered that certain UK military generals should be hanged for war crimes (i.e. being involved in the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan). No doubt the “Islamic extremists” the BNP is always attacking have exactly the same opinion!

  53. @two anonymous posters: the BNP got in because of a proportional voting system. (In European elections, to cut a long story short, if you get more than about 5% of the total vote across all constituencies, even if you do not win a single constituency outright, you will have at least one MEP).

    A “first past the post” voting system is unfair to minor parties because they are extremely unlikely to gain the majority of votes in a seat where it is likely that the three major parties will be contesting that seat as well. The only advantage of the current voting system is that it keeps the BNP out of the UK Parliament …

    I also note, in passing, that the BNP considered that certain UK military generals should be hanged for war crimes (i.e. being involved in the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan). No doubt the “Islamic extremists” the BNP is always attacking have exactly the same opinion!

  54. Can anyone make out the name of the town he says? I want to send him a card, but Google Maps is failing me and my Maine geography isn’t great ;-)

  55. There are times when I get sick and tired of the stupid and ignorant controlling dialogue in this country. Then I see something like this, and am happily reminded by this wonderful man why I’m proud to be an American. Thank you for posting this!

  56. I have to say this man is not only a true HERO, but a testament to what we as human beings AND Americans should be…
    Sir if you are reading this (or if someone who knows him can relay this message), I want to say thank you for the years of dedicated service to our country. Thank you for being a loving husband, and father to a child that is perfectly fine the way he is. And most of all thank you for once again, fighting for the rights of others as you have for so many years of your life. I hope we as human beings, as Americans, can learn from your courage, your strength, your love for your country and for what should be deep within all our souls… respect for others by allowing them the life that all these (and future) brave men and women fought and died for. Their precious blood was shed for EVERYONE, not a select few.
    Sir I am honored that I was able to hear you speak, even if it was only on a video.
    THANK YOU!!!!

  57. This morning I made the mistake of reading reader comments on a newspaper article about gay rights. I’m a trans lesbian, and the ugliness of it made me cry for hours. If only I’d seen this video then. I’m crying again, but I’m crying because of that wonderful, beautiful man and the things he had the courage to do, both back in 1943 and today in 2009. I’m so happy to know that there are some people who understand that equality isn’t just a word or some lofty, pie-in-the-sky ideal, that it is in fact our right has human beings.

  58. This man is now my hero…. from a straight woman who has gay family members and friends, I thank you sir. I find little to be proud of these days but you just made me believe that there is hope.

  59. Live in Canada but found it very moving and so simple and sweet – a truthful moment from a man who obviously isn’t a person geared to the limelight! Found myself blubbering.

  60. I can’t say I’ve heard the story that marines on Omaha beach were fighting for gay marriage. However, I do know for a real fact a lot of the Utah beach guys were fighting for universal health care and a 35 hour work week. We could have never any of that under Nazi rule.

    1. If you read Coming Out Under Fire by Allan Berube, he describes a G.I. culture during WWII that was surprisingly accepting of gays and lesbians. A lot of the antigay intolerance we now associate with the U.S. military was a product of the McCarthy era. Were WWII vets fighting for gay marriage? Some of them may have been, and it is not so much of a stretch to say that gay & lesbian rights flow logically from the democratic values that mobilised the Allied countries to win the war.

  61. Cheers to this amazing man! He has all the right ideas! I just love how straight idiots are taking a stand against the gay community, yet these same LGBT are the ppl who are signing up for the military (not being drafted and told to join) and they are dying for this country…the country that wont let them be with the person they choose. It’s nice to see a military vet that knows that equality means equality for EVERYONE-not just straight people!!!!!!!!

  62. This needs to be on the commercials rather than falling into the same trap as Prop 8 and arguing about schools. Campaign literature isn’t good enough. People don’t really read it, and it wouldn’t resonate as well if they did.

  63. Can’t help but wonder if this resonates partly because of our generations tendency to paint all men from his generation with the same brush. As having different or anachronistic values.

    My father was a WWII vet. When he retired he became a marriage commissioner. The majority of marriage commissioners in BC at the time were retirees.

    When gay marriage was legalized in Canada the province agreed to one condition. He, along with all the marriage commissioners were given the option to opt out. They were asked to notify the province if they intended to refuse to preside over gay marriages. It was the fundamentalist’s last ditch effort to divide people.

    This time they started a war -and no one came.

    This generation banded together once again. Not one refused. Quietly & without fanfare they again provided a united front against intolerance.

  64. I sure which I could watch this video, unfortunately, my dial-up is so slow it makes it impossible. But from the man’s comments to the woman, all I can say is BRAVO! You are a man of integrity, honor and understand what America is about. We should not be held hostage by those that profess to be religious if their religion is a breeding ground for hate of anyone or any group of individuals that are different from them no matter what that difference is. I salute you sir! I hope you live forever!

  65. Kudos to this man for speaking out. Much like him, I am a straight white male, and a registered Republican. I also believe in equal rights for gays (and all people), and fully support their right to marry. This goes to show that there are people like us out there, and we do speak up. We generally register Republican because we lean economically or fiscally conservative, but we do not identify with much of the social platform of our party, and do let them know, either by speaking out or by withholding our money and votes.

    1. …I am also a conservatively-minded american that believes FULLY in the promise of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” that our constitution makes.

      Every man is created equal, and there should be no scale to measure that by. Gay, straight, whatever-if you believe in the principles set forth in our constitution, then you are by my definition, a great american and patriot.

  66. I am proud to share my nationality with this gentleman. What a wonderful way to live; may we all emulate the tolerance and understanding.

  67. Historical context is sometimes kind of weird. A lot of World War II fighters were used to a world that would strike us as hugely racist and sexist. Some of them hated it even then and some of them supported the mores of the time enthusiastically. I bet if you took a poll of people who fought for the Allies in World War II, most wouldn’t support X, where X is some modern trendy politically correct movement du jour. On the other hand, a lot of young guys back then were, by modern standards (and the standards of the old powerful guys at the time), basically socialists. Bill Mauldin, for instance, was the voice of the average G.I. and was a considered a big lefty when he unsuccessfully ran for congress as a young man.

    1. I think that you’ll also find that people who don’t worry about what their neighbors are doing tend to live longer.

  68. He is exactly right to equate the fight abroad against despots, bigotry and fascism during WWII in expressing his support for equal rights at home for all Americans.

    Just this week, I was reminded how religious intolerance and a lack of human rights has made the life of gay people in Iraq not only dangerous but deadly. Some Iraqis are literally pulling gays off the street, torturing and murdering them. The article is NY Magazine and it will turn your stomach to read of forced gang rapes, anal gluing and cutting out body parts of gay men by members of the self-appointed religious extremists in Iraq.

    If America truly is a nation which protects the rights of all its citizens it cannot afford to withhold legal privileges from a group of adults who identify themselves as gay. We see, only too clearly, how anti-gay violence is only possible in countries where all human rights are continually violated.

  69. what an admirable man!!! We need more open minded people like this, who’s heart is in the right place.

  70. I’m happy to read I wasn’t the only one moved to tears by this wonderful man. I salute you sir!

  71. I wasn’t expecting to cry, because everyone else did. Well, I did cry and how amazingly touching!

  72. @vettekaas; ‘I wish I could vote in Maine.” You can’t vote there – but you _can_ vote in your own state.

  73. THIS. This is what the world needs more of. Thank you for speaking up for something that IS the basis for which the U.S. was built on.

  74. Doesn’t this just crystalize the big picture? Pink stars were real then, and their forced wearers were tortured, starved, dehumanized and murdered en masse alonside the yellow-starred Jews, and all the rest of the Nazi labels for various other racial groups and political dissenters.

    Normally I see a lot more attack in comments after something like this, countering the flood of kudos and tearful thank yous – it’s heartening to note there’s almost nothing of the kind here (Xenu’s was pretty mild after all, and some 12-year-old texting from his phone – uh, who knows what that was supposed to say? I think bbl might be bible?). To be sure, it’s fairly impossible to argue against – gay rights opponents will have to quietly ignore this one.

    Anyway, the comments, as much as that speech, reaffirm my faith in humanity.

  75. I don’t understand the argument here the anti gay marriage supporters don’t want this because of a moral issue, coming from religious values?
    What happened to separation of church and state?

  76. My grandfather fought in the South Pacific and one of the best men I have ever known. He would have agreed and echoed this man’s sentiments to a T.

    Why are we having a such a hard time listening to the greatest generation this country has ever known?

  77. People like this help keep my faltering faith in America alive. Truly a hero in every way.

    I hope this video spreads like wildfire and helps give more Americans a proper perspective on what freedom really means beyond some stupid bumper sticker or vapid country song.

  78. An eloquent man, and a great example, may I point out that a great many older, white, straight, Republican men have no quarrel with gay marriage. Intolerance and unconstitutional actions have never been been part of genuine conservatism. Those who profess to be conservative and are opposed to legally recognized unions (I don’t give a damn if you call it marriage, civil unions, whatever) are pandering to an ignorant crowd, or just don’t understand the constitution. Gay marriage WILL become a reality, just as I KNEW that civil rights for blacks, equal educational opportunities for Jews, and equal property and divorce rights for women would become a reality. And I have been a white, Catholic, conservative Republican all of my life.

  79. God Bless this Man! There needs to be more like him! In the Military and in the general population, love and tolerance of all!!!

  80. The bottom line is he stands for what we should all stand for!!! Words cannot express what this man means. There are far too few humans like him.

  81. What a true american hero, who understands that freedom includes EVERYONE. America is stronger when we embrace our differences and let all people live by the same rules. PHILLIP SPOONER FOR PRESIDENT

  82. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
    -Declaration of Independence

  83. He’s right – freedom is freedom for all, not for those who think or act like you think they should think or act

  84. Amazing, moving, brilliant, refreshing. Pretty much the most incredible thing I have ever seen. Thank YOU!

  85. He is a very Humble and Generous man for speaking on the gay and lesbian rights issue … WAY TO GO SIR! Thank You! William Garver, Pasadena, MD

  86. I find this Vets argument overly sentimental and just plain wrong. If Americans had wanted gay marriage in 1942, the Germans and the Japanese couldn’t have done a single thing to stop us. We certainly wouldn’t have had to go to war over it. The idea that we were fighting to preserve a right that didn’t exist back then and barely exists today is ludicrous. I’m quite glad our country got involved in WWII and helped win it. But Americans have long made far too much of the role of idealism in the War. The British, our greatest allies, were getting the stuffing knocked out of them during the Blitz for months before America got involved in the War–despite repeated requests from Churchill. If we hadn’t been directly attacked by the Japanese, who knows when or if we would have ever gotten involved. If saving the nations of France and Britain couldn’t have motivated us to act out, I fail to see how preserving the individual freedoms of Jews, gays, blacks, or any other minority played a role. I don’t know what was going through the mind of this Vet on D-day, maybe he was personally motivated by the idea of extending human rights and instituting gay marriage, but there is only one reason he was ever in that situation in the first place, and it was self defense. We entered WWII for the same reason we entered into our current war with Afghanistan, we were bombed, we considered it an act of war, and we retaliated. It’s not a very pretty idea, it’s not very moving, and you wouldn’t want to write a song about it, but there’s more truth to it than the fairy tale story he’s suggesting.

  87. I like many who viewed this video was very moved by Philip’s comments. The best compliment that I can give Philip is that I hope that I can be a parent to my daughters like Philip is to his children.


  88. As a Vietnam veteran of three tours and two purple hearts, I say I am 20 years younger than this gentleman but we share the same heart.

  89. It takes this sort of testament from a wise and tolerant man to help educate those who fear diversity. Gay people have always served in the military as well, just secretly. We love our country and the day will come when our country will allow us to have the same rights heterosexuals who commit to each other have today. It seems that the failure to accept God’s diverse world is at the heart of the world’s most dangerous problems.

  90. I have been sent many videos by friends, but I have never felt compelled to comment on one. This video and this speech are so beautiful and inspiring, I have to say thank you Mr. Spooner. Today, he reaffirmed my belief in heroes and in heroism. The only truly sad part is that common sense and decency are now heroic in this country.

  91. I’m an Australian, ‘just this side of straight’ bisexual woman, and [like many of you guys here] find myself with tears in my eyes. But unlike many of you, it does not surprise me that a man of his generation would have these views. My Pa was a WWII vet, and when I called him and Nan to say ‘Hey, I’m bringing home my partner to introduce you, and, by the way, she’s a woman’, he responded simply with ‘OK, sweetheart, we’ll make up the big spare room for you two. Drive safe, OK?’ Then I had to tell my dad and uncle, both Army Reservists, just one generation younger. They took it far less well.

    Yet, I’m friends with several US Marines, one of which is still actively serving in Afghanistan, four in Iraq, whilst two others were dismissed on medical grounds after an IED attack took J’s left leg and much of the function in my other friends right arm and I will never forget having a conversation with them over Skype one day just before the US elections, in which J proclaimed:

    ‘We served with a young Marine from Oregon and we knew he was in a relationship because he wore a ring but he wouldn’t talk to any of us about his partner and we couldn’t understand it. Until he slipped up one day and referred to his ‘boyfriend’ in conversation, then promptly froze up. This kid, this 19 year old kid!, had faced down insurgents, and angry locals, had held his ground in the face of munitions fire and held his friends as they bled out and what scared him was us knowing he was gay. How screwed up is that? I’d give that bloke my back any and every day of the week and think nothing of it, but if it got out he had a boyfriend waiting for him at home and not a wife, he’d be discharged and told to go home, be never allowed back into the military. Love is love, none better than any other and yet one day he’ll have to choose between his Marine brothers and settling down and that’s BULLSHIT, CJ! It’s bullshit! Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has whiskers on it.’

    I am so proud of J for his service, but I am more proud of him for his comments that day. He too is a veteran, white, Texan, conservative and Republican and yet he spoke out, not just to me, but to the Marine Corps itself, in opposition to DADT because he too fought for EQUALITY FOR ALL PEOPLE, and not just those who conformed to the norm.

    To Phillip Spooner – your courage extends beyond the battlefields of military campaigns, and into the world. There is more than one kind of hero, and it’s so very rare that someone is several kinds of hero all at once, and yet here you are, proof positive it’s possible. My heartfelt thanks to you, Sir.

  92. You, Sir, are an amazing man. You have put tears in the eyes of every member of my family who has heard your wonderful speech. Sir, thank you…from the bottom of my heart…thank you for having fought for my right to be who I am and for the rights of my children to be who they are. You, Sir, are the shining example of what a TRUE American is supposed to be…a treasure.

  93. I’m a gay Korea veteran. I agree 100% with Darren. Black, White, Yellow, Brown and Gay all had the same color blood. A bomb or a bullet doesn’t ask what race or sexual orientation you are, it does what is has to, it doesn’t discriminate. I had many straight and gay buddies while in Korea and we all got along. That’s what we were fighting for “Equality.”

  94. I was crying when he said “What do you think I for in Omaha beach?”

    I *dare* Limbaugh or Beck to attack him.

  95. Small Queensland towns are usa templates writ large. Self-righteous dunces infest our bush towns and rsl members slander opponents by loudly applying the poofter tag, then hide behind the thriving, untouchable hero industry. These dangerous pricks have much more clout than the original stone-cutters because of their Government connections. Aussies can no longer boast of having collective guts. Spooner’s speech was admirable and I enjoy his pluck.

  96. Amazing – gentlemen still exist. Maybe there is still some good left in the USA after the Bush era of darkness.
    (from someone outside the USA)

  97. Mr. Spooner Sir, Thank you for your great sacrifices. A thousand thank you’s for the great life lesson you have just taught us, so many people. Again you Sir have made a lasting impact the will reverberate in this world for generations. I truely believe this!
    Thank you, thank you, thank you. God Bless you.

  98. Very touching. A person who believes what the rhetoric of the government keeps say, “all men are created equal.”

  99. He was right when stating “We must have equal rights for everyone. It’s what this country was started for.”

  100. Good god, people. The man is 86. Think of the moral climate when he was born. How many of your grandparents are hip to the new gay? I mean I don’t agree with him either, but old values die hard. Go easy and have a little respect.

  101. Reminded me of one of my favorite passages from Adam Haslett’s “Notes to My Biographer:”

    “This will do nicely,” I say, and then I ask him, “How long have you been sleeping with my son?” It’s obvious he thinks I’m some brand of geriatric homophobe getting ready to come on in a religiously heavy manner, and seeing that deer-caught-in-the-headlights look in his eye I take pity and disabuse him. I’ve seen women run down by tanks. I’m not about to get worked up about the prospect of fewer grandchildren.

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