Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a 2020 presidential hopeful, took at a jab at Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday while noting that his marriage to husband Chasten has “moved him closer to God.”
Buttigieg, during a speech at the LGBTQ Victory Fund’s annual brunch in Washington, said marrying Chasten Glezman, a 29-year-old humanities teacher, has made him “a better human being.”
“It has made me more compassionate, more understanding, more self-aware, more decent,” he told the audience. “My marriage to Chasten has made me a better man. And yes, Mr. Vice President, it has moved me closer to God.”
Pence, an evangelical Christian, has come under fire over his views on same-sex marriage, transgender rights and conversion therapy. In January, he defended his wife Karen’s decision teach at a school that bans LGBTQ students and employees.
Buttigieg, in his speech Sunday, opened up about his struggle to come to terms with being gay, telling the crowd that there was a time in his life when he would have happily taken “a pill to make me straight” if one existed.
“Speaking only for myself, I can tell you that if me being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far, far above my pay grade,” said Buttigieg, an Episcopalian.
He continued: “And that’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand, that if you’ve got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”
Buttigieg, 37, described meeting his future husband on a dating app several years ago, telling the audience that he saw Chasten’s smile and “had to meet him.”
“One of the best things about these last couple months is watching America meet him, too, and start to fall for Chasten just like I did,” he said.
Buttigieg, a Navy veteran who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014, also used his speech Sunday to lash out at President Donald Trump over his efforts to ban transgender troops from the military.
“The struggle is not over when transgender troops, ready to put their lives on the line for this country, have their careers threatened with ruin one tweet at a time by a commander in chief who himself pretended to be disabled to get out of serving when it was his turn,” Buttigieg said, referring to Trump deferring military service multiple times decades ago due to alleged bone spurs in his foot.