A video clip of Philip Spooner, a soldier who fought in the Second World War, has become an internet hit after he spoke out for gay rights.

Spooner was addressing the Maine Judiciary Committee in April. The state legalised gay marriage in May and the law was due to come into effect on September 12th but gay marriage opponents have delayed the law. State voters will decide next month whether same-sex marriage should be legal.

His voice frequently cracking, Spooner addressed the hall: “Good morning committee. My name is Philip Spooner. I am 86 years old and a lifetime Republican.”

He said: “I am here because of a conversation I had last June, when I was voting. 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?”

As applause broke out, he said that equality was one of the values of the “great nation” of America and was worth dying for.

The veteran, who was present at the D-Day landing, said he and his late wife have four sons, one of whom is gay. All have served in the US military.

He said: “My wife and I did not raise four sons with the idea that three of them would have certain rights and that the fourth of them would be left out.”

“I was raised to believe all men are created equal,” he added, “and I have never forgotten that.”

“It makes no sense that some people who love each other can marry and others can’t, just because of who they are.”

To watch the video, scroll down