In one of the more unusual displays of homophobia we’ve seen recently, an anti-gay protestor in Iowa dressed up as presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and whipped Jesus while Satan watched.
That was the scene that played out in videos shared on social media from a Buttigieg campaign stop in Iowa.
Buttigieg, the openly gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana, had been canvassing in Iowa — an early battleground state — and was in Marshalltown for a morning meeting.
There, a Buttigieg impersonator, a man in a devil costume, and someone dressed as Jesus carrying a cross attempted to disrupt proceedings.
Shouting at the crowd through a sound system, the devil encouraged the (somewhat lackluster) Buttigieg impersonator to repeatedly whip Jesus.
“Beat him Peter, beat him,” he encouraged. “I hate this guy. More blood, Peter. Every vote is a lash on the back of Christ.”
Watch the bizarre protest below:
— Marcus DiPaola (@marcusdipaola) April 17, 2019
— Charlotte Alter (@CharlotteAlter) April 17, 2019
Buttigieg was apparently unfazed by the anti-gay antics occurring nearby, however.
Asked by reporters whether he was worried about the criticism and protests he’s drawing, Buttigieg was pragmatic in his response.
“Well, the better we do, the more that’s going to happen,” he said. “So I take it as a barometer of success, just something that we have to prepare for, along with all of the other things that you have to be ready for when you reach the top tier.”
Asked if it was “frustrating and offensive” to have protestors “dressed up as Satan and shouting Sodom and Gomorrah” to a gay candidate for President, Buttigieg said as President he’d have to deal with more challenging issues than “a little noise at an event.”
“I think when you’re in politics, especially at this level, you’re going to see the good, the bad, the ugly, and the peculiar,” he said. “And that’s just part of how it work. And you got to be prepared for that. Look, the next president is going to have to confront things a lot more challenging than being interrupted or having to talk over a little noise at an event. So it may be irritating, but it’s also part of the landscape.”
Buttigieg has drawn the ire of the religious right in recent weeks not only for being an openly gay presidential candidate, but also for tackling Vice President Mike Pence’s religion-fueled homophobia.
In an appearance before the LGBTQ Victory Fund’s Champagne Brunch earlier this month, Buttigieg — who is open about his own faith — needled Pence while discussing his marriage to husband Chasten.
“My marriage to Chasten has made me a better man,” he said. “And yes, Mr. Vice President, it has moved me closer to God.”
He later added: “And, speaking only for myself, I can tell you that if being gay was a choice, it was a choice made far, far above my pay grade. 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.”
But Pence wasn’t happy with the public dressing down, telling CNBC that Buttigieg should “know better” and that the pair had had a “great working relationship” while Pence was Governor of Indiana.
“I worked very closely with Mayor Pete when I was Governor of the State of Indiana,” Pence said. “We had a great working relationship. He said some things that are critical of my Christian faith and of me personally. He knows better. He knows me.”
Buttigieg quickly clapped back about their relationship in a tweet, however, writing, “People will often be polite to you in person, while advancing policies that harm you and your family.”
He expanded further during an appearance on CNN’s New Day, saying that Pence uses his religion as an excuse to harm others — particularly LGBTQ people.
“The vice president is entitled to his religious beliefs,” Buttigieg said. “My problem is when those religious beliefs are used as an excuse to harm other people.”
Buttigieg noted that Pence has never acknowledged or said that it shouldn’t be legal in the United States to discriminate against LGBTQ people, adding: “I would love to see him evolve on that issue.”