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Pete Buttigieg says homophobic world leaders will “have to get used to” a gay president

Buttigieg was asked how he would respond to leaders from countries where being gay is illegal

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Pete Buttigieg – Photo: Gage Skidmore

Pete Buttigieg won’t be appeasing or accommodating homophobic world leaders should he become president, if his words at a recent campaign event are anything to go by.

Asked last week how he would deal with leaders from countries such as Saudi Arabia or Russia, where being gay is either illegal or subject to harsh restrictions, Buttigieg responded, “They’re gonna have to get used to it.”

After almost 30 seconds of applause from his audience, the South Bend, Ind., mayor — who has recently surged in polls in Iowa — added a more serious response.

“Look, one great thing about America is that when we’re at our best we have challenged places around the world to acknowledge freedom and include more people in more ways,” he said. “And whether it is by policy or just by example, America is at her best when we have done that.”

“Not every country is there and my real concern is not how those leaders are gonna treat me — they’ll treat me as the president of the United States and we’ll interact as nations do,” Buttigieg continued.

“The problem, of course, is how people are being treated in those countries — and while we can’t intervene in every country and make them be good to their people, I do believe that one big step forward would be for a country like the United States to be led by somebody that people in those other countries can look to and know that they’re not alone.”

Buttigieg, the first viable openly gay candidate for president, is no stranger to thoughtful responses when it comes to dealing with homophobic politicians.

After a Republican county commissioner in Tennessee branded him “a queer running for president,” Buttigieg again offered a witty retort then added a more reasoned follow-up.

“Well, he was right about one thing,” Buttigieg told WHDH last month. “He’s right that there is a gay man running for president. He doesn’t seem to be right about much else.”

Asked if he had “run into this kind of discrimination and prejudice on the campaign trail,” Buttigieg said, “Sure, but it doesn’t speak for most people. And I think the most important thing is to approach with compassion.”

Related:

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

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