The 2020 presidential race is continuing to heat up, with intense vitriol bubbling forth ever more intensely from the right as Democrats make their case. Presidential contender and South Bend, Indiana’s Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is gay, faced protesters yelling anti-gay messages at him this past Friday night while speaking at a Dallas County Democratic Party event. The rising star was interrupted at least four times. He took the challenges in stride, using one protester to make a clear case for his distinction from those on the right via offering that he served in Afghanistan to “defend that man’s freedom of speech.” Buttigieg was deployed as an intelligence officer for about seven months towards the very beginning of his first term as mayor — but that’s hardly stopped some on the right from using his sexual orientation to attack his character.
Pete Buttigieg has been interrupted four times here in Dallas by protesters. One yelled “Marriage is between a man and a woman!” Another yelled “Repent!” After the 4th, Buttigieg continued, “The moment I packed my bags for Afghanistan, to defend that man’s freedom of speech…” pic.twitter.com/zIpDSCIrti
— DJ Judd (@DJJudd) May 4, 2019
Prominent conservative Christian leader Franklin Graham has, for instance, publicly asserted that being gay is a “sin, something to be repentant of, not something to be flaunted, praised or politicized.” Ironically, he’s stuck right by President Donald Trump even through revelations of all sorts of sin on his part, from adultery to lying and beyond.
Buttigieg has also previously faced protesters. Last month, demonstrators confronted him at a campaign event in Iowa shouting about the Biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, which their religion claims were destroyed by God due to sins including daring to be something other than straight.
The mayor has also ended up in a back-and-forth with Vice President Mike Pence himself over his sexuality manifested publicly through means like his 2018 marriage to his now husband Chasten. Buttigieg has singled the vice president out for criticism over his past hostility towards LGBTQ people, and Pence has responded by suggesting Buttigieg was just attacking him to gain political points — and not, notably, by saying that LGBTQ people should in fact face no discrimination of any kind anywhere. In a number of states across the country, laws prohibiting such practices are not on the books.
After the latest incident of hostility, Buttigieg garnered explicit support from fellow presidential candidate and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who was holding a rally at about the same time as the mayor’s event. O’Rourke shared on Twitter:
‘Texans don’t stand for this kind of homophobia and hatred. Mayor Pete, we are grateful you came to Texas and hope to see you and Chasten back again soon.’
Texans don’t stand for this kind of homophobia and hatred. Mayor Pete, we are grateful you came to Texas and hope to see you and Chasten back again soon. https://t.co/IhRDtIBREb
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) May 4, 2019
Both candidates are in a roughly equal spot in the 2020 race. At present, in the RealClearPolitics average of relevant polling, the mayor has surged to fourth place in the Democratic presidential primary field, but he’s only a few percentage points ahead of O’Rourke. Buttigieg has about 8.3 percent of the support, while O’Rourke has about 5 percent.
Along with almost every other candidate, including the two others holding rallies in Texas this weekend, they’re operating under the shadow of the ascendant candidacy of former Vice President Joe Biden. Polling is giving him measures of support in the mid to high 30s, well ahead of any other contender.
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