Metro Weekly

Pete Buttigieg: Opposition to same-sex marriage among black voters will “wash away”

Buttigieg also addressed his past criticism of Mike Pence for opposing same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights

Pete Buttigieg – Photo: LGBTQ Victory Fund, via Facebook

Democratic presidential hopeful Mayor Pete Buttigieg believes that opposition to same-sex marriage will “wash away” among black voters over the course of the election campaign.

Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, Buttigieg — who has been married to husband Chasten for over a year — was asked about a recent Pew Research Center poll which found that only 44% of black Protestants support same-sex marriage.

Just over half of black voters (51%), without taking religion into consideration, support same-sex marriage.

CNN anchor Jake Tapper noted the discrepancy between Buttigieg’s marriage and black Protestants, asking, “Do you think that the fact that you’re gay is part of what might be holding you back with at least some black voters?”

Buttigieg responded: “I think most black voters, like most voters in general, want to know what the candidates are actually going to do to improve their lives. And when I talk to black voters in particular, there’s a sense of having been taken for granted in politics and the sense that candidates haven’t always been speaking to them or earning their trust.

“More than anything, I think my job is to make sure I explain how our vision for increasing the number of black entrepreneurs is going to lead to economic empowerment,” he said. “How the part of my Douglass plan for tackling institutional racism that works on health will help close the maternal mortality gap. I think a lot of these other factors start to wash away once voters understand what it’s going to mean for them that you, versus the others, are in office.”

Tapper also asked Buttigieg about his past criticism of Vice President Mike Pence using evangelical Christianity to justify his anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and actions.

Noting that Buttigieg had been “critical” of Pence’s stance on same-sex marriage, Tapper asked him to explain how Democratic voters with those same issues are different from the vice president, “if they’re both based in religious views.”

“I think back to my experience in Indiana when I was running for reelection after I came out, in a community that’s generally Democratic but also quite socially conservative,” Buttigieg said. “I just laid out the case on the kind of job that I was doing. And what I found was that a lot of people were able to move past old prejudices and move into the future. This is not an easy conversation for a lot of people who have frankly been brought up in a certain way and are struggling to get on to the right side of history.

“But I also believe that this conversation is picking up speed, that it’s a healthy conversation, and that where it leads is an understanding that all marginalized people need to stand together at a time when so many Americans in so many different ways, especially under this presidency, are coming under attack,” he said.

Earlier this year, Buttigieg said that Pence was “entitled to his religious beliefs,” but that his problem was “when those religious beliefs are used as an excuse to harm other people.

Buttigieg noted that Pence has a history of picking fights with the LGBTQ community, citing the 2015 fight over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act that Pence signed into law, which allowed businesses to use religious liberty as a defense if they believed government was burdening their exercise of religion.

“I just believe that’s wrong,” Buttigieg said of the law’s provisions allowing businesses to discriminate. “This isn’t about [Pence] as a human being. This is about policies that hurt people, policies that hurt children.”

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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