2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg took digs at Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump in a speech on Sunday before the LGBTQ Victory Fund’s Champagne Brunch.
Tackling his coming out and his faith, Buttigieg needled Pence in particular when he said that his marriage to husband Chasten had made him a better person.
Speaking at the event for the organization that seeks to elect out LGBTQ people to office, Buttigieg recounted his coming out story and how he came to that decision.
“When I came out in 2015, it was for the simple reason that I was finally ready,” he said. “I had been wrestling with my sexuality for years. And if I had not deployed to Afghanistan, I might never have found the courage to to come out,” he said, referencing his time as a naval intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve.
“There’s something that happens to you when you write a letter, and put it in an envelope, and write ‘Just in case’ on the outside, and leave it where your family can find it if they have to,” Buttigieg added. “It forces you to realize that you only get one life, that you only get to be one person.”
Buttigieg then reflected on his marriage to his husband.
“My marriage to Chasten has made me a better man,” he said to applause. “And yes, Mr. Vice President, it has moved me closer to God.
“You may be religious and you may not,” he added. “But if you are, and you are also queer, and you have come through the other side of a period of wishing that you weren’t, then you know that message, the idea that there is something wrong with you, is a message that puts you at war, not only with yourself, but with your Maker.
“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,” Buttigieg said. “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 also took a shot at Donald Trump for his proposed transgender military ban, which is slated to go into effect on Friday, April 12.
“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,” he said.
Buttigieg, who has formed a presidential exploratory committee but has not officially announced he is running for president, then broached the question, asked by many in the media, of whether Americans are ready for an openly gay president, despite polls showing a majority have no problem with an openly gay candidate running for the Oval Office.
“[T]he next time a reporter asks me if America is ready for a gay president, I’m going to tell them the truth. I’m going to give them the only answer I think is honest, and it’s this: I trust my fellow Americans, but at the end of the day, there’s exactly one way to find out for sure.”