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Mayor Pete Buttigieg — the openly gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana and Democratic presidential hopeful — sat down for an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which aired on Friday. During his sit-down with the talk show host, Buttigieg offered more insight on his heated public debate on LGBTQ rights with Vice President Mike Pence.
Pence previously claimed that Buttigieg criticized him and his Christian faith. But, according to Buttigieg, that was never his intention when he was simply speaking about Pence’s heavily documented opposition to LGBTQ rights.
“Yeah, I’m not critical of his faith; I’m critical of bad policies. I don’t have a problem with religion. I’m religious too. I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people, and especially in the LGBTQ community,” said Buttigieg. “So many people, even today, feel like they don’t belong. You can get fired in so many parts of this country just for who you are and that’s got to change.”
In 2000, Pence wrote on his congressional campaign website that “resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior” — seemingly advocating conversion therapy. Though, at the time, he did not specify what kinds of “sexual behavior” he was referring to, Pence has long been considered a threat to LGBTQ citizens by community leaders. The VP has also vocally supported “religious freedom” laws, which some see as an open invitation to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals.
“And if the VP, I’m not interested in feuding with the vice president, but if he wanted to clear this up, he could come out today and say he’s changed his mind that it shouldn’t be legal to discriminate against anybody in this country for who they are,” Buttigieg added on Ellen. “That’s all.”
Buttigieg will officially kick off his presidential campaign Sunday at an event set to be held at a former Studebaker factory that’s been transformed into a technology center — an economic development project that Buttigieg worked on with former Indiana governor Pence. On Friday, Pence told CNN that he once considered Buttigieg a “friend” and insisted that “he knows I don’t have a problem with him.”
Asked if he believes homosexuality is a choice, Pence failed to directly answer the question and said instead, “I think Pete’s quarrel is with the First Amendment. All of us in this country have the right to our religious beliefs.”
Speaking to DeGeneres, who is also gay, Buttigieg doubled down on former assertions about his own Christian faith — which he has described as a “more inclusive and more humane vision of faith than what this vice president represents.”
“When I’m in church, the scripture I hear is about taking care of the least among us,” he said, “and putting other people before you.”
Watch Buttigieg’s interview with DeGeneres below.
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