Mike Pence Deflects Criticism Of His LGBTQ Intolerance, Citing First Amendment

“All of us in this country have the right to our religious beliefs. I’m a Bible-believing Christian.”

Vice President Mike Pence is hitting back at criticism from 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, who questioned how Pence’s religious beliefs conform to his anti-LGBTQ views.

Buttigieg, the South Bend, Indiana, mayor who is openly gay and Episcopalian, said at the annual LGBTQ Victory Fund brunch on April 7 that “the Mike Pences of the world,” should realize that “if you’ve got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, Sir, is with my creator.” 

Pence, a former Indiana governor who has worked with Buttigieg, seemed stung by the criticism in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash that aired Friday. He said he “considered [Buttigieg] a friend, and he knows I don’t have a problem with him.” 

“I don’t believe in discrimination against anybody,” asserted Pence, a socially conservative Christian whose policies in Indiana were criticized as harmful to the LGBTQ community. “I treat everybody the way that I want to be treated. The truth of the matter is all that of us have our own religious convictions. Pete has his convictions, I have mine.”

Pence’s record of LGBTQ intolerance includes arguing that same-sex marriage was a sign of “societal collapse,” opposing an anti-workplace discrimination law and supporting the now-repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy preventing soldiers from openly identifying as gay.

Still, the vice president contended that Buttigieg’s issue was related to freedom of religion rather than acceptance.

“I think Pete’s quarrel is with the First Amendment,” he said. “All of us in this country have the right to our religious beliefs. I’m a Bible-believing Christian.”

The remarks add to a feud between the two Hoosiers that has been building throughout the week.

In a Wednesday interview with CNBC, Pence chided Buttigieg for his criticism, saying “he knows better” and suggesting that his speech was motivated by Democrats’ competition “with one another for how much more liberal they are.”

In a pre-taped appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” airing Friday, Buttigieg fired back at Pence, saying: “I’m not critical of his faith; I’m critical of bad policies.”