In a candid reflection on his marriage, South Bend, Indiana, mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg acknowledged that while he has made certain personal mistakes, his love for husband Chasten isn’t one of them.
During a live Q&A at New York City’s 92nd Street Y on Wednesday with The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart, Buttigieg, who is openly gay and Christian, addressed criticisms of the LGBTQ community from both Vice President Mike Pence and evangelist Franklin Graham. In particular, the mayor was prompted to respond to an April tweet in which Graham called Buttigeig’s sexuality “sin, something to be repentant of, not something to be flaunted, praised or politicized.”
“I guess I would say that we all have a lot to repent for,” the 2020 hopeful said. “I have a lot to repent for when it comes to my marriage. Moments when I have not been as caring as I should be, moments when I’ve been selfish, moments when I’ve said a harsh word that I wish I could take back, but one thing that I absolutely should not be repentant for in the context of my marriage is the fact that I’m in love with my husband.”
Days after Graham’s words were posted online, a portrait of Buttigieg and his spouse was featured on the cover of Time magazine’s May 13 issue, superimposed with the words “First Family,” a clear nod to his White House run.
“It’s mindblowing,” Buttigieg said, recalling his reaction. “When I was a student, I had some aspirations about public service but it seemed to me then that there was going to be a fork in the road that either I could be out [as gay] or I could be in public service.”
Elected as mayor at age 29, Buttigieg, now 37 and serving out the end of his term, has realized he can do both.
However, the naysayers have persisted. Buttigieg has repeatedly squared off with Pence, who was the governor of Indiana for much of the time Buttigieg has been mayor. In a now-famous remark, Buttigieg said in April that “if you’ve got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, Sir, is with my creator.”
Replying on CNN, Pence, whose policies as Indiana’s governor were scrutinized as detrimental to the LGBTQ community, asserted that he doesn’t “believe in discrimination against anybody,” adding, “Pete has his convictions, I have mine.”
Graham and Pence aside, Buttigieg has also faced down anti-LGBTQ hecklers at campaign stops who interrupt his speeches with shouts of protest.
Still, the candidate noted on Wednesday that it was by embracing his identity rather than hiding it that he landed a spot on Time’s cover, pointing to the image as “one of the things that gives me the hope that is required to run for office at a time like this.”
“Because without hope, you can’t run for office.”