Heading into the 2020 presidential elections, the Trump team has a whole host of issues to face — including, thanks to the advocacy of Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg, their antagonism towards LGBTQ Americans. This week on CNN’s New Day, he further clarified his stance on Vice President Mike Pence’s relationship to the whole issue, tearing apart Pence’s present positions in the process and offering a vision of an appropriate path forward.
Buttigieg — who is gay — has been going back-and-forth with Pence on this issue via public commentary for some time now. Pence has long established himself as on the side of religion-driven discrimination against LGBTQ people, which is not exactly reassuring considering he’s supposed to be representing the entirety of the United States and not just old straight White Christian guys. Pence, of course, doesn’t see an issue with his stance, putting responsibility for any turmoil squarely on Buttigieg’s shoulders, recently telling CNN:
‘I think Pete’s quarrel is with the First Amendment. All of us in this country have a right to our religious beliefs.’
The South Bend mayor responded to that idea this Tuesday, explaining how quite simply, the vice president is wrong.
He told the hosts of CNN’s New Day:
‘The vice president is entitled to his religious beliefs. My problem is when those religious beliefs are used as an excuse to harm other people. That was a huge issue for us in Indiana when he advanced a discriminatory bill in 2015 under the guise of religious freedom that said it was lawful to discriminate, provided you invoked religion as your excuse. And I just believe that’s wrong. This isn’t about him as a human being. This is about policies that hurt people, policies that hurt children.’
Buttigieg offered another example among the many available of the vice president’s established fondness for harassment of the LGBTQ community, having even thought that the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy around gayness in the U.S. Armed Forces was too lenient on the community.
Pete Buttigieg responds to Vice President Mike Pence: “The Vice President is entitled to his religious beliefs. My problem is when those religious beliefs are used as an excuse to harm other people.” https://t.co/hLOIWoJwdu pic.twitter.com/Js3iFmf7nd
— New Day (@NewDay) April 16, 2019
The increasingly popular mayor asserted that Pence should address the actual substance of the issue at hand instead of wrongfully complaining about Buttigieg supposedly going after him personally:
‘If you listen closely to what he said, you’ll notice that to this day, he has not brought himself to say that it shouldn’t be legal to discriminate against people in this country because they’re LGBT… He could’ve cleared that up!.. Maybe he will evolve to believing that it shouldn’t be lawful to discriminate against people for being gay, and if he makes that development, I would welcome that.’
One of the times Pence might have come closest to denouncing LGBTQ discrimination came in 2015, when he was pressured into signing superseding legislation addressing that “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” that Buttigieg mentioned.
The secondary legislation specifically denied proponents the chance to use the law as a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people, but at the time, all he could muster was the assertion that the original legislation should “not create a license to discriminate or to deny services to any individual as its critics have alleged.” That might as well just be an acknowledgement of political expediency, however, and not one of the need to protect LGBTQ rights.
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