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An Indiana Republican lawmaker is being criticized for posting an anti-gay comment in response to a homophobic meme poking fun at former Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg’s sexuality.
The meme, posted to Facebook on Mar. 3, shows three pictures of presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden standing behind Buttigieg and putting his hands on the former South Bend mayor’s shoulders.
The meme says: “Oh shit, Oh God, Oh no,” insinuating that Buttigieg is a bottom and that Biden is performing a sexually explicit act on Buttigieg.
The meme is a twist on an attack commonly deployed against Biden, using images of Biden — who is known for physically shows of affection — rubbing women’s shoulders.
In the comments underneath the image, Indiana State Sen. Mike Young (R-Indianapolis) wrote that Buttigieg is “used to it.”
The comment has since been deleted, but Gary Snyder, of Indiana Talks, caught a screenshot of the comment, which sparked outrage from Democrats after they realized it was a state senator who had commented on the meme.
Indiana LGBTQ activist Drew Anderson accused Young of “homophobic slander” and called on the Indiana Republican Party — as well as the Indiana Senate GOP caucus and the Marion County GOP — to condemn the comment and for Young to apologize for posting it.
That comment was echoed by Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody who issued a statement responding to the controversy on Twitter.
“I am calling on Sen. Mike Young to apologize for his homophobic message earlier this week. There’s no excuse for it, and his silence on it is worse. What are you doing about, @INSenateGOP @indgop?”
Ali Brown, the first out LGBTQ woman to elected to the Indianapolis City-County Council, also demanded an apology from Young and Indiana Republicans.
“I’m calling on the Republican Party, the state GOP, the county GOP, and Sen. Mike Young to apologize,” she said. “They need to apologize not only to Pete and Joe Biden for this garbage, but also to the LGBTQ community in this state, which they continue to use as a punching bag.”
Brown told Metro Weekly she’d love for Young to step down, but “that’s never going to happen.”
“Sen. Young needs to educate himself on what it’s like to be part of an outside group that gets beat up continuously,” she added. “But as a straight, white Republican man, that’s never going to happen to him.”
Regarding Young, Brown alleges that the senator has amassed a long record of opposing LGBTQ rights, saying he’s “repeatedly shown his bigotry.”
In 2012, Young was one of 20 state senators who signed a letter to the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles asking the department to stop issuing specialty license plates — often used to raise money for major causes, such as opposition to abortion, breast cancer awareness, or environmental protection — for the Indiana Youth Group, an LGBTQ youth organization.
The plates were yanked by the BMV in what some believe was a politically motivated decision, but were ultimately reinstated following a judge’s decision.
Young was a vocal supporter of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act when it initially passed in 2015.
In 2016, after lawmakers had passed a “fix” to the RFRA law — following statewide and national outcry over the belief that the law condoned discrimination against the LGBTQ community — Young attempted to introduce a bill to repeal that same fix under the guise of protecting “fundamental rights,” such as religious freedom.
“In his free time, he chose to attack Pete Buttigieg in a homophobic way, to attack Joe Biden in a predatory way. He’s just bad for the community and one of the people we’ve constantly had to fight against, because he’s decided that homophobia works for him politically,” said Brown. “We know the majority of Hoosiers support the LGTBQ community and this guy, because of gerrymandering, keeps getting elected and keeps spouting homophobic nonsense.
“It’s really frustrating. We live in a state where we’ve had to fight and push and claw for everything,” she added. “We were the last state to fight a marriage ban. We have one of the highest rates of LGBTQ youth suicide in our state because of people like this. We have no protections, no hate crime laws to protect us. He stood in opposition to all of that. And he knows he did something wrong, because he deleted his comment off the post.”
Inquiries seeking comment from Young’s Senate spokeswoman were not returned as of press time.
Pete Cowden, a veteran service officer who is challenging Young for his Senate seat, also criticized Young for his actions.
“Unfortunately, Mike Young is a classic Indiana legislator. He’s been in office since 1986, and the GOP supermajority, as a whole, seems to be much more worried about social issues than they are about making people’s daily lives better,” said Cowden, who identifies as an LGBTQ ally.
“I don’t know Mayor Pete personally, but I think he’d agree that in a firefight, no one cares whether you’re gay, straight, black, white, Muslim, or Christian. And it’s the same with the vast majority of Hoosiers,” he told Metro Weekly.
“I talk to a lot of people who feel like Indiana only gets in the news only about things in a negative light, and they don’t feel that reflects their community,” Cowden added. “They care about whether or not politicians and elected officials are making their daily lives better. And unfortunately, my opponent not only is ignoring the needs of our community, he’s felt the need to insult people with demeaning comments.”
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